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Poland guys move on after 68-47 win over Irish

March 7, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The Poland boys basketball team entered the Youngstown District of the Division II state tournament as its number one seed.

What the Bulldogs did last Friday night (March 2) to a very strong Ursuline team at home cemented that lofty ranking. The Irish were winners of seven of their past nine games before battling the Bulldogs. Yet, Poland easily disposed of the number nine seed 68-47. Poland is now 23-1 overall and moved on in the tournament to take on fourth-seeded Lakeview in the district semifinal. That game was played March 7 in Boardman.

Despite the nearly 20-point margin of victory, the Bulldogs were pestered by the Ursuline club for three quarters. Poland's defense finally started dominating in the final frame holding the visitors to just eight fourth-period points. That defensive domination was fueled by Poland playing in a zone. That defensive scheme stopped the larger Irish group from going inside to put up points.

Article Photos

Photos by Mike Audi, Town Crier

Poland's Billy Orr goes up for a layup at last Friday (Mar.2) sectional championship game at the Poland Field-House. Orr had nine rebounds, eight points and one assist with the Dogs dropping the Irish 68-47.

"The zone messed with (Ursuline) a little bit," said Poland head coach Ken Grisdale. "They struggled in the first quarter against zone against Salem (in Ursuline's first round playoff contest)."

Offensively speaking, the Bulldogs weren't as dynamic, but they were economical. Only four Poland players scored on Friday night led by Dan Kramer who tallied 21 points. Braeden O'Shaughnessy was right behind his teammate with 19 points. Brandon Barringer put in 11 points. Mike Diaz was the final Poland scorer with nine points.

This match in the sectional finals was a rematch of the district title game played between these two schools a couple seasons ago. Ursuline won the championship that night so the win by Grisdale's gang last weekend earned them a bit of revenge.

Playing Ursuline so early in the tournament this year proved to Poland's coach how grueling his side of the bracket is.

"There's some good teams in our district," Grisdale said.

Another of those good teams is Lakeview. The other Bulldogs bounced Hubbard 50-40 in their sectional final battle. That victory came on the heels of a 74-37 crushing of Southeast a few nights earlier. Lakeview is in the districts for the first time since 2009. Certainly Poland plans on making that return an uneventful one.

Awaiting the winner of the Bulldog battle will be the winner of the game between second seeded Howland and sixth seeded Struthers. Poland versus Howland has been the clash everyone in the Youngstown District has desired since the tournament pairings were announced. That district final is scheduled to be played Saturday afternoon in Boardman.



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