The Buchtel boys basketball team finished No. 1 in the final Associated Press Division II state poll, becoming the first Akron Public School in 30 years to do so.
A state panel of sports writers and broadcasters selected the undefeated Griffins (19-0) after they won the City Series title and defeated then-Division II No. 1 Dayton Dunbar 75-66 this past weekend. Dunbar finished No. 2 in the poll.
"This is a great accomplishment for the school and the West Side community," Buchtel coach Stephen White said. "I hope to continue and keep it going. Hopefully we can get to state. We have to win sectional, district and regional titles before we get to go to state."
Central-Hower was the last Akron Public School to win a poll title. The Eagles won the Class AAA poll in 1980 and then won the Class AAA state tournament title and finished with a 28-0 record under coach Joe Siegferth.
Senior guards Jason Pitts and Myles Fitten average a team-high 15 points per game for Buchtel, who also defeated a Cleveland Benedictine (16-3) team that finished No. 6 in the Division II state poll.
Junior guard Jazel Garrett (11 points, 5.5 assists), senior forward Dainan Lewis (nine points) and junior forward Shawntrail Smith (eight points, 11 rebounds) are also key players.
Junior guards Chevin Meadows and Marlon Oden, senior forwards Da'Jon Lewis and Marwan Muhammad, senior guard Anthony Thomas, junior forward Nate Harris, freshman guard Elijah Bell and junior center Shaquille Riddick provide depth.
"Everything starts in practice and you need to practice hard," White said. "Our motto is if you lose you go home, and that is what we are trying to avoid."
White is in his seventh year at Buchtel after five years at East. He guided Buchtel to a 20-0 regular season record during the 2005-2006 season and that team finished 23-1. The Griffins have won five City Series titles during his tenure.
Buchtel opens tournament play on March 5 against the winner of Alliance and Coventry.