The Warriors were thwarted by the No. 4-ranked Vikings' quick and aggressive defense that led a 64-42 win.
By TODD BELL
NORTH CANTON -- The West Branch High girls basketball team ran into a buzz-saw in its final game before the Division II tournament, losing to state-ranked North Canton Hoover 64-42 on Wednesday night.
"They did a great job of doubling on the point guard," West Branch coach Chuck Campbell said. "They are quicker than we are, and when they came out to attack us, a lot of times we tried to dribble through it, and that didn't help."
Ashley Armstrong nailed a 3-point goal and Carissa Wayland dropped in a pair of free throws as West Branch (16-4) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first three minutes. The Warriors forced four turnovers in that span.
But once the Vikings got on track, they were difficult to derail.
Hoover (19-1) scored the next seven points and went on to an 11-7 first-quarter lead. The Warriors committed 12 turnovers.
Moore hits 22: West Branch kept it close midway through the second quarter, but Hoover senior Abby Moore, who led all scorers with 22 points, scored on a driving layup and was fouled by the Warriors' freshman, Tori Arndt, her third foul.
"That's a senior for you," Hoover coach Paul Wackerly said. "That's what Abby's job is to do sometimes. This was her last game at home and I knew she'd step up."
Arndt sat out the remainder of the first half and Hoover gained command, going on a 13-3 run for a 30-16 halftime lead.
Late in the third quarter, Hoover stretched its lead to 45-24.
Catherine Portyrata scored 12 points and had five rebounds, and Katie Glaws added 10 points for Hoover, which is ranked fourth in the Division I poll.
"She's our secret weapon" Wackerly said of Portyrata. "She's a very strong girl."
Arndt led the Warriors with 12 points and five rebounds.
Test: "This is a good measuring stick for her because this is probably the most physical team that we will play all year," Campbell said. "She gives us a presence inside."
West Branch, the No. 2 seed in the Div. II tournament at Austintown Fitch, had won 14 straight games.
"This was really a win-win situation for us," Campbell said. "This is a game that you set up that you're either going to win and be on a high or with a loss you step back and look at the things you need to improve on. Anytime you win 14 games in a row, you need a contest to see where you are because when you win a few games by 30 points, it's easy to lower your guard."