The 2020-21 girls basketball season has come to an end with some teams finishing in some familiar places. But it was a historic year for other teams in the final all-classification regional rankings, and there is no better example than the team that ended up at the top.
The Oakleaf (Orange Park) Knights advanced to their first state semifinal appearance in school history by winning at then-No. 3 Spruce Creek (Port Orange) in the region semifinals and then pounding Timber Creek (Orlando) in the Region 1-7A final.
The Knights (24-3) advanced to the R.P. Funding Center in Lakeland for their first final four game but came up short against eventual state champion Plant (Tampa) 69-52.
Despite the state semifinal loss, Oakleaf received seven of the nine first-place votes and finishes at the top of The Prep Zone Power Poll. The Knights only other losses this season came to 4A state semifinalist Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) and 1A state runner-up Hawthorne.
Bishop Kenny (20-10) ends up at No. 2 after advancing to the state semifinals for the third straight year.
Unfortunately, the Crusaders came up short 44-32 against eventual 4A state champion and undefeated Lake Highland Prep (Orlando), which beat the Crusaders in the 4A state title game a year ago.
Bishop Kenny, which finished No. 1 in The Prep Zone Power Poll final rankings in 2020, received a first-place vote and moved up six spots from the previous poll after capturing Region 1-4A with wins over Ribault (Jacksonville) and Raines (Jacksonville). Bishop Kenny also picked up wins in the regular season over Oakleaf and Hawthorne as well as No. 11 Nease (Ponte Vedra).
St. Augustine finished third after their first state semifinal appearance since 2001.
The Yellow Jackets (26-2) lost only to Nease in the regular season and took the District 4-5A tournament title over No. 17 Ponte Vedra and knocked off the Sharks again in the region semifinal.
St. Augustine won three regional playoff games at home, edging Fort Walton Beach to advance to Lakeland where the season came to an end in the state semifinals against Palm Bay (Melbourne). But for St. Augustine, their first final four trip in 20 years earned them the right to move up one spot in the final rankings as well as the final first-place vote.
Class 1A state runner-up Hawthorne finishes fourth. The Hornets (20-5) were the odds-on favorites to repeat as 1A state champions most of the year and faced a much tougher regular season slate. Their only losses came to 7A schools West Orange (Winter Garden) and Timber Creek, as well as Bishop Kenny and Raines.
Hawthorne rolled through its district tournament and the Region 4-1A playoffs, capturing the region final on the road with a 47-29 romp at No. 10 Wildwood. After dispatching 2019 state champion Trenton in the state semifinal, Hawthorne led most of the state championship game against Ponce De Leon but lost 40-37 on a 3-pointer with nine seconds to play, dashing the Hornets’ repeat hopes.
Ribault rounds out the top five of the final power poll.
The Trojans (17-4) drop from 2nd in the previous poll after losing in the Region 1-4A semifinal at Bishop Kenny, 44-39.
Spruce Creek starts off the second five at No. 6. The Hawks (18-6) defeated Nease in the opening round of the 7A playoffs before being eliminated in the region semifinal by Oakleaf.
Raines is seventh. The Vikings (19-6), like Ribault, defeated Bishop Kenny in the regular season but were beaten in a thriller by the Crusaders in the postseason, this time 60-55 in overtime in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
Mainland (Daytona Beach) ends up at No. 8, followed by ninth-ranked Trenton.
The Class 1A Tigers (23-5) advanced to the final four for the second time in three years. Trenton's season ended in Lakeland with a 43-32 loss to Hawthorne, but the Tigers moved up eight slots and into the top 10 in the final poll.
Among the highlights in the second 10 are No. 13 Buchholz (Gainesville), which won its first district title and playoff game since 2013.
The only team to move into this final poll is No. 19 Eustis. The Panthers (13-6) won their opening round playoff game at Wesley Chapel before losing by only 10 points at Lake Highland Prep in the region semifinals.
Dropping out from the previous poll is Bartram Trail (St. Johns), which didn't qualify for the regional playoffs.
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.
THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2020-21 GIRLS BASKETBALL POLL #6 (FINAL POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record, and total voting points)
1. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (7A) (7) (24-3) – 176
2. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (1) (20-10) - 161
3. St. Augustine (5A) (1) (26-2) - 159
4. Hawthorne (1A) (20-5) - 158
5. Ribault (Jacksonville) (4A) (17-4) - 142
6. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (18-6) - 124
7. Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) (19-6) - 122
8. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) (20-3) - 120
9. Trenton (1A) (23-5) - 102
10. Wildwood (1A) (18-4) – 94
11. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (7A) (19-7) - 92
12. Crystal River (4A) (19-4) - 82
13. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (15-5) - 79
14. St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) (3A) (20-1) - 56
15. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (3A) (13-6) - 45
16. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (13-7) - 38
17. Ponte Vedra (5A) (16-7) - 32
18. North Marion (Citra) (4A) (17-5) - 31
19. Eustis (4A) (13-6) - 27
20. The Villages (4A) (20-7) - 23
Also receiving votes: Hernando Christian Academy (Brooksville) (2A) (15-1) – 16; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (15-7) - 8; Madison County (1A) (11-4) – 2; Branford (1A) (13-6) - 1.