Weekly Hoop Rankings: Lay of the land

As expected, there are some major shakeups in this week's rankings due to the fact that several of the state's top 25 teams played one another during the first two rounds of regional tournaments. Let's jump right in.

Though it might not qualify as a huge upset, West Orange knocking off Dr. Phillips is big news in 8A. After two consecutive years of losing to Austin Rivers and Winter Park in the state finals, it looked like this might be DP's year. It was not to be for the Panthers and junior guard RaShawn Powell. For its part, West Orange chose the right time to peak and is now one of the hottest teams in the state. Led by Murray State signee Erik McCree (18 ppg), the Warriors knocked off Olympia to win the district title and now find themselves in the regional final against Hagerty. That has the potential to be a great game — depending on which Hagerty team shows up. Will it be the team that handed No. 1 Montverde Academy its only in-state loss, or the team that lost to Evans, Seminole, Lake Brantley (twice) and Lake Howell? (In fairness, half of those losses came early in the season when the Huskies were missing key players due to injury.)

Moving over to 7A, No. 2 Blanche Ely took care of business on Tuesday night, but Steve Haney and St. Thomas Aquinas didn't make it easy. Ely is the overwhelming favorite to capture the title — no other team left in the bracket is ranked in the top 25, though Atlantic and Martin County certainly could make a case for inclusion. In 6A, Leesburg won big for the second consecutive game. After an up-and-down season, the Yellow Jackets have finally hit their stride. Our prediction? Leesburg and Miami Norland in the championship.

You have to hand it to Terry Parker, a team that nobody was picking once star guard Solomon Poole was suspended last month for the remainder of the year, per FHSAA requirements, after being ejected from his second game of the season. But Parker is now in the 5A regional finals, where the Braves will face Rutherford. Nature Coast Tech, which lost to eventual state champ Leesburg in 4A last year, also prevailed, while Lake Wales and Tampa Jesuit are set to do battle after winning their respective games. The 5A regional semis also marked the end of the road for Alex Thompson and Jensen Beach, who lost to a surging Plantation American Heritage team five days after knocking off heavily favored Dillard.

In Class 4A, three of the four teams in last week's top 25 prevailed: Godby won easily, Lake Highland Prep pounded Jones (a state finalist last year and a top 25 or bubble team for most of this one) and Pine Crest upset University. Upset may be putting it strongly, however: Pine Crest had beaten University last month, and the Panthers have been to the state final four or farther each of the last five years, capturing two titles when a certain Brandon Knight was on the roster.

Class 3A would be considered the "group of death" if this were the World Cup — the one bracket with no easy outs. In our opinion, 3A has the most difficult field this year top to bottom, tougher than even the largest classifications. Five of the remaining eight teams are in our top 25, where most of them have been all season: Sagemont, Tampa Prep, First Academy, Father Lopez and Providence. (That doesn't even include Summit Christian and Coral Springs Christian, top 25 teams eliminated by Sagemont in the past five days.) While many brackets look different now that the FHSAA has moved to eight classifications, this one has a familiar feel to it; last year, First Academy beat Lopez, Providence and Tampa Prep before falling to Sagemont in the 2A championship.

Finally, favorites Grandview Prep and Orlando Christian Prep won easily in 2A, while in 1A, top contenders Chipley and Malone advanced to face each other in the regional finals. Malone had to go through Holmes County and its star junior, Chris Walker, to get there.

So which teams moved into our state rankings and which dropped out? Click here to see the full POWERADE Weekly Hoop Rankings, including capsules on the state's top 25 squads.