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Girls open season with a close 52-50 win over Salem

December 5, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Poland's girls basketball team entered the 2018/2019 campaign full of promise due to a strong returning core of players.

That hope was put to the test immediately when the Lady Bulldogs opened the season at Salem on Nov. 26. It took a strong fourth period by the Poland kids to come back and hold off the home team in a hard-fought 52-50 opening night victory. The resolve the Bulldogs displayed throughout the evening made head coach Nick Blanch believe in his group even more than he did this preseason.

"I was very proud of my team for never giving up," Blanch said in an email. "We trailed by as many as 12 points and continued to battle."

The Bulldogs needed to battle right down to the final few minutes. Poland was trailing by six points as late as the four-minute mark of the final frame. Some good defense, important rebounds and timely scoring enabled Blanch's Bulldogs to nab victory from what seemed to be the jaws of defeat. A 15-11 advantage by the visitors in the fourth brought the Bulldogs all the way back.

"We continued to chip away and eventually grab the lead at the very end," said the coach. "The girls on the floor gave it their all and our bench was constantly engaged and cheering them on. It was a great team effort."

Senior point guard Sarah Bury had six field goals and was a perfect three for three from the foul line to finish with 16 points. Stellar sophomore Jackie Grisdale equaled her upperclassman teammate in points scored. She was three for six from beyond the three-point arc. Junior forward Kailyn Brown was right behind that duo with 15 points. The Poland ladies combined to shoot 45 percent from the floor and better than 40 percent from 3-point range. They needed that super shooting because getting any points in the paint against the larger Lady Quakers was a huge chore.

"Salem had the size advantage, which was very tough for us to overcome," said Blanch.

Size won't matter to Poland if it continues to gut out victories this season. Games against Howland and Brookfield were scheduled this week. Both of those battles took place on the road meaning the Bulldogs won't get to play their first home game until Dec. 8 versus Champion. The Lady Flashes have already blasted Lakeview by 40 points and were outlasted by a basket in double overtime by the above-mentioned Lady Tigers. By the time the Bulldogs face the Flashes, they will be battled tested and ready to face off with an opponent inside the friendly confines of their own fieldhouse.

 
 

 

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