HomeTeam 15: Boys basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

After a two-week break, the power rankings are back.
St. Petersburg guard Terell Strickland drives to the hoop during furious action at East Lake. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
St. Petersburg guard Terell Strickland drives to the hoop during furious action at East Lake. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published January 8

There was some slight movement at the top with St. Petersburg moving up to No. 1 and Wharton falling a few spots. The biggest mover was Alonso, which vaulted from No. 10 to No. 3 thanks to quality wins against the Wildcats and Nature Coast.

The Elite

1. St. Petersburg (13-0)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University; Friday at Countryside; Saturday vs. Clearwater (St. Petersburg Shootout).

Previous spot: No. 2

Why they moved up: The Green Devils were expected to hit some road blocks early on this season, especially with so many new players taking on more prominent roles. But the only thing that has changed are the names in the starting lineup. St. Petersburg has remained dominant and is the only undefeated team left in the area. During the break, the Green Devils won the Mary Persons Holiday Classic in Georgia and beat Strawberry Crest at Clearwater's shootout. Terell Strickland was named MVP of the Mary Persons tournament after scoring 37 points in the title game. St. Petersburg's marquee game this week is against Clearwater on Saturday.

2. Hillsborough (11-2)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Chamberlain; Wednesday vs. Brandon; Friday vs. King

Previous spot: No. 3

Why they moved up: The break started tough for the Terriers. They had to forfeit the opening game of the Kruel Klassic against Westminster Academy because of exams. Hillsborough responded by beating Grace Christian 61-27 and Western 56-54 in the final two games of the tournament. Last week, the Terriers beat Suncoast 69-65 and knocked off defending Class 8A state champion Pompano Beach Blanche Ely 64-47. Christian DeLeon had 19 points and Joshua Gloster added 12 to go along with 13 rebounds in the win over Blanche Ely.

3. Alonso (11-3)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Riverview; Wednesday at Sickles; Friday vs. Newsome

Previous spot: No. 10

Why they moved up: The Ravens handed previously top-ranked Wharton its only loss to an area opponent to take third at the Nature Coast Christmas Invitational. Terrionce Blalock hit the game-winning 3-pointer against the Wildcats. At last week's Sun Bash tournament, the Ravens beat Nature Coast 52-48. Blalock scored a game-high 14 and Kamalii Findlay added 10 in the win over the Sharks.

4. Wharton (11-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Plant; Friday at Freedom

Previous spot: No. 1

Why they moved down: After starting the season 9-0, the Wildcats went 2-2 during the break. Wharton beat Timber Creek and Golden Gate and lost to Wesley Christian (Ken.) and Alonso. The two losses were by a combined three points. Carr Thiam had 14 points, five assists and four rebounds in the loss to the Ravens. Wharton still is alone in first place in Class 8A, District 8. If the Wildcats can complete regular-season sweeps of Plant and Freedom this week, they can all but wrap up the top seed in the district.

5. Lakewood (11-2)

Up next: Friday at Dunedin; Saturday vs. Tampa Catholic (at St. Petersburg Shootout)

Previous spot: No. 5

Why they stayed put: The Spartans made it to the final of the Suncoast Holiday Classic, losing the title game to Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller. Lakewood came back to beat Tampa Bay Tech 57-50 and Largo 45-35 in its two games at Clearwater's shootout. Four players are averaging double figures in scoring — Jalen White (17.7 points per game), Oteman Delancey (13), Jamille Reynolds (12.6) and Jermaine Phillips (10). On Saturday, the Spartans will get a tough test against Tampa Catholic at St. Petersburg's shootout.

On the cusp

6. Berkeley Prep (11-3)

Up next: Wednesday at Brooks DeBartolo; Saturday vs. Tampa Prep (at St. Petersburg Shootout)

Previous spot: No. 4

Why they moved down: The Bucs fell from the unbeaten ranks, going 4-3 in three tournaments or shootouts during the break. At the Capital City Classic, Berkeley Prep beat Gadsden County and lost to Tallahassee Godby. The Bucs followed that by going 1-2 at the Battle of the Villages. They beat Hamilton (Wisc.) and lost to Miami Christian and Stranahan. This past weekend, Berkeley Prep finished strong by beating Jefferson and Robinson at its own shootout. On Saturday, the Bucs host rival Tampa Prep in the annual Headmaster's Challenge.

7. Tampa Catholic (11-4)

Up next: Friday at Cardinal Mooney; Saturday vs. Lakewood (at St. Petersburg Shootout)

Previous spot: No. 7

Why they stayed put: The Crusaders got past two of their rivals, routing Tampa Prep 71-33 at the City of Tampa tournament and knocking off Jesuit 76-68. The highlight of the break for Tampa Catholic was traveling to Las Vegas to play in a tournament. The hotels were paid for by former Crusader Kevin Knox (now with the New York Knicks) and the airfare was taken care of by Tampa Bay Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Tampa Catholic reached the championship game of the Las Vegas Prep Invitational, losing to Trinity International (Nev.). Kobe Knox, younger brother of Kevin, leads the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game.

8. East Lake (10-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Pinellas Park; Wednesday at Seminole

Previous spot: No. 8

Why they stayed put: There were some big moments for the Eagles the past two weeks. They beat Sanford Seminole 74-54 in the championship game the Arrow Force Holiday Classic. The more impressive victory came in the semifinals with East Lake knocking off two-time defending Class 4A state champion Westminster Academy. Dakota Speed, who scored a career-high 27 against Westminster, was named to the all-tournament team. Dionte Blanch, who had 26 points in the title game, was named MVP. Blanch also reached the 1,000-point career mark during the break. The Eagles stumbled at the CCC Invitational, losing to Plant in the semifinals.

9. Freedom (10-1)

Up next: Tuesday at Gaither; Friday vs. Wharton

Previous spot: No. 9

Why they stayed put: It was a light schedule for the Patriots with just one tournament the past two weeks. At the Calvary Christian Shootout, Freedom beat the host Warriors 63-56 and Sunlake 68-64 in overtime. Nick Butler was named MVP. The Patriots enter the second half of the season on a seven-game win streak. Their lone loss was against Wharton last month. Freedom has a chance to avenge that loss, as well as force a tie atop the Class 8A, District 8 standings, in Friday's rematch with the Wildcats.

10. Nature Coast (10-3)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Lecanto; Friday at Weeki Wachee

Previous spot: No. 6

Why they moved down: A perfect start (9-0) was wiped out after the Sharks went 3-3 in two tournaments. Nature Coast advanced to the final of its Christmas invitational, losing to Land O'Lakes 51-42. At last week's Sun Bash, the Sharks went 1-2, beating Canterbury 68-47 and losing to Lakeland Santa Fe 60-47 and to Alonso 52-48. Robert Gomez led all scorers with 30 points against the Crusaders. Nature Coast gets a chance to regroup this week with games against Lecanto and Weeki Wachee.

Don’t overlook

11. Jesuit (10-4)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Middleton; Friday vs. Robinson

Previous spot: No. 9

Why they moved down: After winning their shootout and the first game of the St. Pius X Christmas Classic in Atlanta, the Tigers closed out the break on a three-game losing streak. They lost the final two games of the St. Pius X tournament and fell to rival Tampa Catholic. Jack Cooper is averaging a team-leading 14.7 points per game.

12. Wesley Chapel (12-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Anclote; Friday vs. Pasco

Previous spot: No. 12

Why they stayed put: The Wildcats had a strong showing in a pair of tournaments. They went 2-1 at Nature Coast Christmas Invitational, beating Jefferson 82-57 and Countryside 62-51 and losing to Armwood 57-52. At last week's Greg O'Connell New Year's Shootout, Wesley Chapel advanced to the title, losing to defending Class A state champion Wildwood 72-59. Isaiah Ramsey is the only Wildcat that is averaging double figures in scoring at 18.1 points per game.

13. Land O'Lakes (13-2)

Up next: Wednesday at River Ridge; Friday at Mitchell

Previous spot: No. 14

Why they moved up: The Gators took home a tournament title, winning the Nature Coast Christmas Invitational by beating the host Sharks in the championship game. After losing to Wildwood in overtime in the Greg O'Connell New Year's Shootout, Land O'Lakes came back to beat Mitchell and Cypress Lake. Chase Farmer leads the Gators in scoring with an average of 20.1 points per game.

14. Clearwater (9-3)

Up next: Wednesday vs. Northeast; Friday vs. Largo; Saturday at St. Petersburg

Previous spot: No. 15

Why they moved up: Though the Tornadoes went 3-2 in two tournaments, their two losses (to Cincinnati Hughes and Timber Creek) were both against out-of-area foes. At its own shootout, Clearwater closed out the break by beating Winter Haven 67-56 and Tampa Bay Tech 72-64. Four players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Max Jones at 15.9 points per game.

15. Tampa Prep (10-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Calvary Christian; Thursday vs. Carrollwood Day; Saturday at Berkeley Prep (Headmaster's Challenge)

Previous spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: The Terrapins return from the break on a five-game win streak. They won the Keswick Christian Suncoast Classic, beating Mount Dora Christian 76-48 in the final. This week is a big one for Tampa Prep with games against Class 4A, District 4 rivals Calvary Christian and Carrollwood Day followed by a matchup against Berkeley Prep in the Headmaster's Challenge.

On the bubble: Zephyrhills (8-2), Calvary Christian (9-4), Gibbs (6-7), Canterbury (10-6), Seffner Christian (7-4), Anclote (5-3), Tampa Bay Tech (6-4), Strawberry Crest (6-6), Plant City (5-6)

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