BOYS BASKETBALL Poland pounds the ball inside, tops Canfield to stay unbeaten in MAC
Post players Bill Bartos and David McGarry teamed for 30 points.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
POLAND -- It wasn't really a turning point. More of a wake-up call.
Fresh off a key win over Niles on Jan. 4, the Poland High boys basketball team went to Canfield a week later and promptly played the worst first half of its season.
The Bulldogs scored just six points -- all in the second quarter -- and trailed the Cardinals 17-6 at halftime. Poland rallied to win, but the poor showing left a bad taste in the mouth of Bulldog coach Ken Grisdale.
"Defensively, they caught us off guard," Grisdale said. "The staff and the team watched a lot of film and we talked about it and came up with a pretty good game plan [for Tuesday]."
A key part was to pound the ball inside, and the Bulldogs executed the plan to perfection Tuesday night.
Combined for 30: Poland post players Bill Bartos and David McGarry combined for 30 points, as the Bulldogs beat Canfield 61-41 to win their ninth straight game and stay undefeated in the Metro Athletic Conference.
"Our No. 1 objective is to go undefeated in the MAC," Grisdale said. "We got a wake-up call at Canfield and we weren't going to let that happen again."
Canfield (8-8, 3-4) stayed close in the first quarter and trailed just 14-12 at the end of one. The Cardinals tied the score at 16 with 4:23 left in the second quarter, but Poland (13-2, 7-0) went on a 10-0 run to end the half. By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs had a commanding 45-26 lead.
Standout: Senior Jamie Dunn had 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals for Poland. Dunn -- the reigning MAC player of the year -- drives the Bulldogs, but junior Neil Harris has become their motor.
The eccentric junior forward with the shaggy hairstyle scored just two points, but added seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
"He plays like his hair is on fire," Grisdale said. "He needs to have his hair on fire. Sometimes the game is too slow for him."
Harris grew his hair out last summer and promised Grisdale he would cut it if he would let him put it in braids for one game.
Grisdale said no.
"I just want to do it for one game," Harris said. "But I'll probably get a haircut."
Factors in success: Seniors Dunn, McGarry and Lou DaVanzo are the reasons for Poland's success, Harris said.
"We're doing really well lately and we just play for the seniors," Harris said. "If they told us to go out in tents, we'd go out in tents. If they told us to play sloppy, we'd probably play sloppy. We do our best for them."
Canfield got a solid game from Chad Baker, who had nine points and five rebounds. Jared Kirkpatrick had seven points, four rebounds and three assists, and Chase Booms added eight points.
Poland shot 52 percent from the field (27 of 52) -- including 8 of 9 in the third quarter. Canfield hit 16 of 40 (40 percent) and did not attempt a free throw in the first half.