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Dogs get close 54-53 win over Wildcats

February 7, 2018
By Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Back on Jan. 4, Poland's boys basketball team received the biggest scare it would get this season.

The Bulldogs needed some late heroics to subdue Struthers at home 54-53. That game would mark the closest the Poland boys have come to tasting defeat all year. The rematch from that thriller took place last Friday night at The Fieldhouse. That game much more resembled the carnage the Bulldogs have applied to their opponents this season than the close one a few weeks prior. Poland plastered the Wildcats on their home floor 76-60 to up its incredible record to 18-0 overall and 9-0 in the All American Conference White Tier.

For one half it seemed s if the Bulldogs were going to make mincemeat of the Wildcats. A hot first half had the visitors leading 39-20 at halftime. It also had the throng of Wildcat fans that were pining for an upset over undefeated Poland sulking. The start of the second half, however, turned those frowns upside down. Struthers started the third quarter on an 8-2 run to pull to within 13 points. The Bulldogs then did what they have done during this entire winning streak. They turned up the defensive heat to quell the potential comeback.

"I knew (Struthers) would go on a little run," said Poland head coach Ken Grisdale after the game. "I'm proud our kids held tough."

Struthers did attempt to make one last run midway through the fourth period and got Poland's lead down to seven points. That's when these bad bunch of Bulldogs started raining in shots and outscored Struthers 22-13 over the final six minutes of the game. Helping that hot shooting was the Bulldogs' seven successful 3-pointers. Braeden O'Shaughnessy connected on three of those triples and led Poland in scoring with 26 points. Mike Diaz, who has taken on a bigger scoring role this year, also hit a trio of 3-pointers and ended with 19 points. Dan Kramer was next up with 18 points.

The Poland men had even less trouble disposing of Jefferson a few nights earlier in an 82-41 blowout victory. That made two enormous wins over the Dragons this season by a combined score of 160-63. The games against Jefferson and Struthers are the back end of conference home-in-home matches. Hubbard got its second shot at dethroning the Bulldogs on February 6 in Poland. The Bulldogs eliminated the Eagles 67-39 on their home floor four weeks ago. The first of two tussles with White Tier rival Edgewood will take place on Feb. 9, and then after a visit from Campbell Memorial, the Bulldogs will battle arch nemesis Canfield in a cross-conference clash at home on Feb. 16. Knowing the rivalry these two schools have in all sports, no doubt the Poland kids will have to keep up their intensity against a Cardinal club that will be bustling to break the Bulldogs winning streak.



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