Warriors lead the pack in Div. II

COLUMBUS –The West Branch girls basketball team is on top of the Northeastern Buckeye Conference and the state poll.

The Warriors go into tonight’s game as the top-ranked team in the season’s first Associated Press Division II girls state poll, which was released Monday.

West Branch is 10-0 on the season and has won 33 of its last 34 games.

The Warriors have a two-point lead over second-place Gates Mills Gilmour Academy. West Branch, Gilmour and seventh-ranked Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary could meet in the Barberton regional.

West Branch is 7-0 in NBC play and will host Canton South today.

The highest the West Branch girls have finished in the final state poll is third — in 1996 and 2004, the year the Warriors won the Division II state title.

West Branch is one of four Mahoning County teams appearing in the state poll.

Canfield (8-3) is 17th in Division I, South Range (10-1) is tied for 23rd in Division III and Jackson-Milton (11-0) is 16th in Division IV.

Canfield, which lost a 55-36 decision at West Branch on Nov. 29, is leading the All-American Conference Red Tier with a 6-0 mark. The Cards will play at Hubbard today.

South Range hasn’t played a game since Dec. 30, so the Raiders have had time to prepare for Thursday’s home showdown against Youngstown Ursuline.

Jackson-Milton, which will play at Sebring on Thursday, is 7-0 in the new Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference.

See page 2B for the complete girls state poll.