basketball

Plenty has happened since the last girls' basketball season ended in Florida.

A pandemic ended the spring sports season prematurely, and the fall sports season was in jeopardy before beginning a few weeks late in September.

But the 2020-21 season begins this week, and some things haven’t changed – like the team at the top of the all-classification regional rankings, the Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) Crusaders.

The Hawthorne Hornets also look primed to challenge for another state championship.

The Hornets, who captured their first state girls basketball title last season and are ranked #3 in the first poll, also received two first-place votes and are expected to be one of the favorites in Class 1A again this season with most of last season’s players returning and Charlotte signee Mya McGraw transferring into Coach Cornelius Ingram’s program from P.K. Yonge.

Also ranked in the top 20 are Columbia (#16), PK Yonge (#17), and Trenton (#19). Lafayette also received votes in the poll.

Bishop Kenny, led by All-First Coast player of the year and Miami signee Jasmyne Roberts, finished as the Class 4A state runner-up last season for the second consecutive season. That was enough for the Crusaders to finish as the #1 team in the final power poll for the 2019-20 season.

And with Roberts, Maddie Millar, and Jamia Nesmith returning, Bishop Kenny receives three of the eight first-place votes to start the new season on top as well.

The Crusaders just edged out Raines for the top spot. The Vikings received two first-place votes after a 28-2 season a year ago that ended in the 4A region final round against Bishop Kenny.

Raines, which returns Ahliah Brown in the backcourt and Jamicia Davis in the frontcourt, is an excellent defensive team but can score with the best of them as well.

Rounding out the top five are two teams tied for 4th, Spruce Creek (Port Orange) and Ribault (Jacksonville).

Spruce Creek was 24-6 and lost to Timber Creek (Orlando) in the Region 1-8A final last season, while Ribault saw their season end with a loss at rival Raines in a 4A region semifinal. Spruce Creek finished the 2019-20 season at #4 while Ribault placed 5th.

Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) received the final first-place vote and leads off the second five. The Green Wave finished last season ranked #3 with a 26-3 mark, losing to eventual 3A state runner-up Master’s Academy (Oviedo) in a region final.

The rest of the second five consists of 7th-ranked Wildwood, Nease (Ponte Vedra) at #8, and Flagler Palm Coast and Creekside (St. Johns) tied for 9th.

Nease was unranked in the final poll last season, but finished the 2018-19 season atop The Prep Zone rankings after finishing as the 7A state runner-up.

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 it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2020-21 GIRLS BASKETBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON)

(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final 2019-2020 record, and total voting points)

1. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (3) (22-10) – 145

2. Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) (2) (28-2) – 141

3. Hawthorne (1A) (2) (29-2) – 119

4T. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (24-6) – 115

4T. Ribault (Jacksonville) (4A) (23-9) – 115

6. Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) (3A) (1) (26-3) – 107

7. Wildwood (1A) (25-3) – 83

8. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (6A) (14-11) – 70

9T. Flagler Palm Coast (7A) (18-7) – 60

9T. Creekside (St. Johns) (6A) (16-9) – 60

11. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (21-5) – 56

12T. Middleburg (5A) (19-7) – 53

12T. St. Augustine (5A) (19-6) – 53

14. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) (13-12) – 49

15. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (7A) (16-11) – 45

16. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (21-8) – 42

17T. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (18-10) – 40

17T. P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (3A) (18-9) – 40

19. Trenton (1A) (21-6) – 30

20. Vanguard (Ocala) (5A) (16-9) – 28

Also receiving votes: Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (17-10) – 27; Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (16-12) – 27; Madison County (1A) (22-7) – 25; Eustis (4A) (19-8) – 22; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (13-12) -16; North Marion (Citra) (4A) (19-9) – 15; Terry Parker (Jacksonville) (5A) (13-9) – 15; Weeki Wachee (4A) (18-9) – 9; Crystal River (4A) (20-7) – 8; Orange Park (5A) (20-8) – 8; Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-8) – 8; Atlantic (Port Orange) (4A) (17-9) – 6; Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (3A) (16-10) – 5; North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (17-4) – 4; Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (2-17) – 4; Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (15-8) – 3; West Port (Ocala) (7A) (15-11) – 3; South Sumter (Bushnell) (4A) (20-9) – 2; Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (14-8) – 1.

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