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Poland wins final Battle of 224

February 22, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A 69-61 loss at Edgewood on February 9 ended the Poland boys basketball team's quest for a perfect season, but it didn't eliminate their ultimate goal.

The Bulldogs are the top dogs in the Youngstown District of the Canton Regional for the Division II state tournament. Poland was placed in the upper bracket and received a first round bye thanks to its sparkling 20-1 record and top four ranking in the state. It will host the winner of the game between Salem and Ursuline on March 2.

Certainly the Bulldogs would have loved to have entered the tourney carrying an unbeaten streak, but the mighty Warriors were ready for their rivals in the first of two matches between the powerful programs this season. A strong defensive effort by the home team forced the Bulldogs into uncharacteristic mistakes and some missed shots. Perhaps Poland will even the score with Edgewood when the two talented teams meet again on February 23. That game will be staged on the Bulldogs' home court and should have the All American White Tier title hanging in the balance. Those stakes should also have Bulldog Nation in a frenzy.

Article Photos

Photos by Mike Audi, Town Crier

Bulldogs' Braeden O'Shaughnessy sinks a 3-pointer at last Friday's 'Battle of 224' basketball at the Poland Field-House. The Dogs won by a score of 75-60 and O'Shaughnessy scored 28 points in what may possibly be the last basketball game in the rivalry with Poland's departure from the All-American Conference.

A large throng of those Bulldog backers were in attendance last Friday night when Poland welcomed Canfield in what could possibly be the final time these two legendary schools meet on the hardwood as members of the AAC. The wild crowd was whooping it up from tipoff, which enabled their favorites to feed off of them. That momentum resulted in the Bulldogs burying their nemesis 75-60. After the win, Poland head coach Ken Grisdale, who graduated from Canfield, spoke sympathetically about the possible disassembly of the conference.

"I'm really sad to see the breakup of the league," Grisdale said. "I'm very disappointed in the fact that some old rivalries will no longer exist, at least in the near future."

If this was indeed the last time the Poland and Canfield cagers hook up, it will be memorable for Daniel Kramer. The Poland junior, who scored 32 points against the Cardinals a year ago, bettered that output with 33 last Friday evening. That marked a career high for the deadeye shooter. Braeden O'Shaughnessy added 28 points for Poland. The Bulldogs bludgeoned the Cardinals going 28 of 43 from the field and 15 of 24 from the foul line. These two teams will meet at least once next year at the annual Unite Way Classic, but that'll be the only time they share the court together.

Prior to the win over Canfield, Poland bounced back from its only loss by crushing Campbell Memorial 63-49 on the road. While the Bulldogs were fumbling away possessions against Edgewood, they were the beneficiaries of some crucial errors by the Red Devils. Campbell committed 24 turnovers, which helped Poland establish a large lead. Although the home kids went on a 20-4 run midway through the game to cut the Bulldogs' advantage to one-point, a myriad of second half mistakes by the Devils pushed Poland back into a comfortable advantage down the stretch.

O'Shaughnessy paced Poland with 20 points. Kramer had 14 points and seven rebounds.

Before the Bulldogs get their chance at redemption against Edgewood, they hosted state-ranked LaBrae on February 20. The two tough games that Bulldogs need to play to complete their regular season should have them mentally sharp and ready to attack come tournament time.



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