The Metro Athletic Conference rivals will meet again, with the stakes raised.
By GREG GULAS
AUSTINTOWN -- The Poland High girls basketball team built a 15-point lead in the second half, then withstood a fourth-quarter charge by Cardinal Mooney to win 48-42 Saturday in a Division II sectional final at Fitch High.
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (15-6) advanced to the district semifinals next Thursday against top-seeded Howland, an 88-45 winner over Chaney.
Strategy: "We wanted to limit Cardinal Mooney to one look at the bucket, then hoped to push the ball up the court," Poland coach Jamie Dunn said. "We had stretches where we looked good doing those two things, but overall our play was a little too inconsistent.
"To not play your best game and still advance in the tournament is a testimonial to the team's hard work."
One of the keys for Poland was the play of senior forward Julie Gallo. She scored a game-high 21 points and added eight caroms while neutralizing the play of Mooney post player Aieshya Dixon.
Dixon had a team-high 17 points but was limited to just five points in the second half.
"The third quarter has been our nemesis all season long," Mooney coach Roy Nard said, referring to its four-point total in the quarter. "We gave them a run at the end, but our play right after halftime cost us."
A Dixon jumper at the 2:35 mark of the opening quarter gave the Cardinals an early 13-10 lead, but Gallo scored four of the final six points for the Bulldogs as they took a 16-15 lead.
Halfway point: Kristy Gaudiose had five of her 11 points in the second period and the Cardinals connected on just three of 13 field goal attempts as Poland took a 25-21 lead into intermission.
A Gallo jumper with a minute remaining in the third quarter increased the Bulldog lead to 37-23. When Gina Brunetti connected on a short jumper just 19 seconds later for Cardinal Mooney, Poland had to settle for a 37-25 lead heading into the final quarter.
Howland-Chaney: Howland scored early and often and easily defeated Chaney to improve to 20-2.
Marianne Krezeczowski failed to score in the first quarter, then set the nets on fire the rest of the game as she led three Tigers in double figures with a game-high 29 points. She also had a game-high eight rebounds as Howland held a 39-31 edge on the boards.
It was the second time this season the Tigers defeated City Series foe Chaney. They defeated the Cowgirls 94-38 in December.
"They have definitely gotten better since our first meeting with them," Howland coach John Diehl said. "We felt that we had to apply fullcourt pressure in order to get things going for us.
"Marianne Krezeczowski has been our leading scorer all season, so it was surprising to see her get shut out in the opening quarter."
The Tigers built a 20-6 lead after the first period, increased that lead to 48-15 at the half and when Krezeczowski added 12 points in the third frame, the Tigers had built a 68-24 margin.
"We are a very young team and look to the future with plenty of hope," Chaney coach Tim Bakos said. "We had two freshmen at the post and played a total of six freshmen in the game."
Darcy Quinlan and Meredith Schneider each dished out six assists for the Tigers, who had a season-high 30.
Donielle Eldridge had 14 points and six rebounds in a losing effort for the Cowgirls (8-14).