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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Braintree is No. 1 in first girls hoop poll

By Brendan Hall

Our first statewide MIAA Top 25 girls hoop poll of the 2013-14 season is up. To view it, CLICK HERE.

The next update of the girls' basketball poll will be on Friday, Dec. 27.

A few notes and observations about the first poll of the season:

Braintree is preseason No. 1 -- again
For the second straight season, Bay State Conference juggernaut Braintree is the No. 1 team in the land to start the season. The Wamps were No. 1 to start the 2012-13 season; they ended up winning a second straight Division 1 South title before falling to the eventual state champs -- this time Central Catholic -- in the Eastern Mass. Final at TD Garden. A trio of highly-touted juniors -- guard Ashley Russell, center Molly Reagan, and reigning Bay State MVP Bridget Herlihy -- lead the way, as well as Herlihy's younger sister, sophomore Brianna.

Rounding out the top five are Archbishop Williams (2), Newton North (3), Medfield (4) and St. Mary's of Lynn (5).

DCL, Catholic Central represented well
Members of the Dual County and Catholic Central leagues account for nearly one-third of the poll, led by the aforementioned Archies at No. 2. The Bishops are the defending D3 state champs, littered with scholarship-caliber talent, but come into the season snakebitten by injury, none bigger than Penn State-bound junior center Jaylen Williams (knee). The aforementioned St. Mary's (5) and Arlington Catholic (13) are also representing the Catholic Central.

From the DCL, Westford Academy leads the way at No. 7, coming off a D1 North Final appearance a season ago with talented duo Sam Hyslip and Hannah Hackley. The latest MIAA realignment has the Grey Ghosts moving into D1 Central, where they're almost certainly the top dog. Three of the final five spots in the poll are also represented in the poll, with Bedford (22), Newton South (24) and Boston Latin (25).

Here's how the first poll of the season breaks down by league affiliation:
Dual County - 4
Catholic Central - 3
Bay State - 2
Hockomock - 2
Merrimack Valley - 2
Boston City - 1
Cape Ann - 1
Central Mass. Conference - 1
Eastern Athletic - 1
Greater Boston - 1
Middlesex - 1
Mid-Wach B - 1
Northeastern - 1
Patriot - 1
Suburban - 1
Tri-Valley - 1
Valley League - 1