MAC race tightens with win by Poland
The Bulldogs beat Campbell in overtime to avenge an earlier OT loss.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CAMPBELL -- A passion to battle back as atonement for a slow start was powerful enough to carry Poland past Campbell Memorial in a Metro Athletic Conference game Tuesday night.
Poland's 47-44 overtime victory tightened the Metro Athletic Conference race with both teams leaving the Campbell gym with 6-2 league records.
"We talked to the kids about never giving up, about fighting," Poland coach Ken Grisdale said of overcoming a 15-2 deficit after one quarter.
"We lost two games in situations where we doubted ourselves," Grisdale said of Poland's only losses, both 54-51 in overtime to Canfield and Campbell earlier.
"We didn't believe, so we talked about coming in here tonight to get a piece of this crown," Grisdale said. "It didn't look good there for awhile, but instead of tucking in their tails and feeling sorry for themselves, they found a way."
Campbell also beat Poland twice last season, but the schools hadn't played since the old Mahoning Valley Conference days.
Lou Coppola and Ben Umbel had 12 points apiece and Charlie Carchedi added 10 for the Bulldogs (11-2), while Campbell's Bryant Burt led all scorers with 16 points.
Poland slowly chipped away at the lead and took it for the first time following a 43-43 regulation finish.
"Our kids executed and made plays," Grisdale said. "Campbell was denying passes and tipping balls and got us on our heels. But our kids went and made plays.
"For us to make plays in a pressure situation like that tells me they grew up. We're a good basketball team and we're going to be a very good basketball team down the stretch."
A turning point came when, with the Red Devils leading, 43-37, Jermaine Richardson missed three free throws at 2:17.
"We got in some early foul trouble and then, down the stretch, didn't execute well enough -- missing both open, short shots and foul shots," Campbell coach Brian Danilov said after his Red Devils dropped to 10-3.
Because its fullcourt press had success against Campbell in the earlier game, Poland's coaching staff didn't hesitate to use it again.
However, with Chris Lovell strapped with several fouls and Coppola ringing up a few, too, the Bulldogs switched personnel frequently to derive the most benefit when defense demanded aggressiveness.
"Campbell's personnel dictates that we had to press," Grisdale said. "The first time we played them, they turned the ball over 23 times.
"We got down big in that game, but fought back and had a chance. We knew we could press them. The guys we kept bringing in were our fresh guys," Grisdale said of Brad Brocker and David White as substitutes early in the third quarter. "Chris had four fouls so we needed him on the offensive end, so we didn't want to take a chance on losing him."
Poland managed to force 19 turnovers on Tuesday.
Tommy Hall was one of Campbell's player picking up some early fouls.
"Hall picked up his third foul 30 seconds into the third quarter," Danilov said, "so that hurt us a little. And Richardson had a rough one today. You've got to make foul shots."
Burt drew some fouls, too, some of which were the results of trying to contain Coppola around the basket.
"It came down to couple areas, like foul shooting," Danilov said.
In hard numbers, Poland's 12 for 21 conversion at the foul line outdid Campbell's 5 for 13.
"The league is going to be tight," Danilov said. "Poland and us beat each other up. Now we've got to beat up on a few other people and try to get it back."
Campbell plays at East Liverpool on Friday and against Canfield next Tuesday.
"We'll get back to work and get ready for Liverpool and take them one at a time," he said.