Nease up, Hawthorne down in new girls basketball power poll

Basketball art
Basketball art
Natasa Adzic via Shutterstock

GAINESVILLE—There’s a new No. 1 team in The Prep Zone Power Poll for girls basketball we start 2021.

The Nease (Ponte Vedra) Panthers were 6-0 over the holiday break and have won 10 in a row since suffering their only loss in late November.

That streak has catapulted the Panthers (13-1) ahead three spots and to No. 1 in the first all-classification regional rankings of the new year.

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Nease defeated Lake Mary, Oak Ridge (Orlando) and Gateway (Kissimmee) at the Florida Prospects Christmas Tournament in Orlando the week after Christmas. The Panthers also easily defeated DeLand, Menendez (St. Augustine), and Providence (Jacksonville) before Christmas.

Included in the Panthers’ 10-game winning streak are wins over No. 6 St. Augustine, No. 12 Columbia (Lake City), and No. 19T Ponte Vedra. They received seven of the nine first-place votes this week to take over the top spot.

Oakleaf (Orange Park) makes a six-spot leap to second in the poll as it remains the only undefeated team in the top 10.

The Knights (11-0) won the Clay Holiday Tournament in Green Cove Springs, easily defeating Clay and Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) before trouncing Ponte Vedra 80-52 in the championship game.

Oakleaf also defeated then-No. 1 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) 61-41 on the road earlier in December and trounced Orange Park 67-25.

Spruce Creek (Port Orange) is third.

The Hawks (9-2) move up from No. 5 after winning five of six games over the holidays. Their only loss came against Southeast (Bradenton) at the Tampa Bay Christmas Tournament. Spruce Creek also won at No. 5 Raines (Jacksonville) and RV Bartram Trail (St. Johns) before Christmas as well.

Ribault (Jacksonville) fell one spot to fourth this week, despite receiving the other two first-place votes.

The Trojans (9-3) knocked off Bishop Kenny earlier this week 51-50 in overtime and defeated Colonial (Orlando) and Dr. Phillips (Orlando) at the Florida Prospects Invitational. But they dropped a 57-54 contest to Wekiva (Apopka).

Ribault also defeated RV Terry Parker (Jacksonville) but lost 62-49 to rival Raines.

Speaking of Raines, the Vikings (9-4) move up two spots and round out the top five.

They also defeated Bishop Kenny and No. 15 Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) over the holidays with their only loss coming to Spruce Creek.

St. Augustine (13-1) starts off the second five at number six. They have won eight in a row since their only loss, which came in overtime to No. 1 Nease.

The Yellow Jackets easily defeated Palatka and West Port (Ocala) and then edged RV Bartram Trail (St. Johns) to win the Jarvis Williams Holiday Classic in Palatka. They also picked up wins in December over #11 Flagler Palm Coast and RV Mandarin (Jacksonville).

The rest of the top 10 consists of No. 7 Hawthorne, No. 8 Wildwood, and Bishop Kenny at No. 9—which fell from the No. 1 spot in the first two polls after losing five of their last six games—and No. 10 Mainland (Daytona Beach).

Hawthorne (7-2), which was previously second, drops five slots despite winning the Battle on the Island Championship before Christmas, beating host RV Fleming Island (Orange Park) 55-31 in the championship game.

The Hornets dropped their first two games of the season at the Florida Prospects Invitational in Orlando to 7A West Orange (Winter Garden) and 7A Timber Creek (Orlando).

Two more undefeated teams, 11-0 Fletcher (Neptune Beach) and 10-0 St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) both move into the poll this week at No. 14 and No. 18T respectively.

Also new to the rankings are Eustis (7-2) and Ponte Vedra (8-4), which tied for 19th.

Falling out from the previous poll are Father Lopez (Daytona Beach), Terry Parker, and Bartram Trail.

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.


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

1. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (7A) (7) (13-1) – 170

2. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (7A) (11-0) – 159

3. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (9-2) – 150

4. Ribault (Jacksonville) (4A) (2) (9-3) – 149

5. Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) (9-4) – 144

6. St. Augustine (5A) (13-1) – 138

7. Hawthorne (1A) (7-2) – 137

8. Wildwood (1A) (8-1) – 115

9. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (8-6) – 109

10. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) (8-1) – 99

11. Flagler Palm Coast (7A) (7-2) – 94

12. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (6-2) – 77

13, Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (3A) (8-1) – 75

14. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (11-0) (6A) – 56

15. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (6-0) – 43

16. Trenton (1A) (10-1) – 34

17. P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (3A) (2-1) – 32

18T. Crystal River (4A) (8-2) – 18

18T. St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) (3A) (10-0)

19T. Eustis (4A) (7-2) – 15

19T. Ponte Vedra (5A) (8-4) – 15

Also receiving votes: Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (6-4) – 12; Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (10-3) – 6; Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (6-3) – 6; North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (5-0) – 6; Terry Parker (Jacksonville) (5A) (5-5) – 6; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (St. Johns) (7A) (7-6) – 3; Williston (1A) (6-1) – 2; Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (6-5) – 1; North Marion (Citra) (4A) (7-3) – 1.

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