By Dan POMPILI
A contest of rhythm at Poland High School Thursday night came down to a toss-up between the Bulldogs’ girls basketball team and their jazz band.
LaBrae just couldn’t find the beat.
The Bulldogs (4-0) harassed the Vikings (3-1) from tip-off to final buzzer in a runaway 58-33 win that wasn’t as close as the score suggests.
While LaBrae kept up for the first several minutes, Poland quickly found ways to disrupt the Vikings’ game.
Poland’s intense defensive pressure forced turnovers, miscues, missteps, fouls and penalties. Many a LaBrae possession ended before it began and often resulted in a Poland basket.
“Poland just came out and played a great game,” LaBrae head coach Lisa Aldridge said. “We didn’t handle the pressure well. Their pressure just got to us in the first half and we couldn’t recoup.”
LaBrae senior Ashlee Stubbs worked hard to score and rebound, but was frustrated and undermined repeatedly by Poland’s double- and triple-team efforts.
Poland head coach Nick Blanch expressed satisfaction.
“I’m very pleased with their effort and how hard the girls are working to get better in practice, and it showed tonight,” Blanch said. “We beat a very good LaBrae team.
“Our defense took it to them like nobody else has so far this year.”
Aleah Hughes pulled down eight rebounds and scored 14 points on 6-13 shooting from the field and two free throws.
Rachel Robertson’s hot hands buried the Vikings with four 3-pointers and four steals. She also scored 14 points.
The Bulldogs put the Vikings into imposing situations that forced them to throw desperate passes. Poland won the turnover battle by a decisive 27-17 margin.
Poland had their share of misses and mistakes, but the collaborative efforts of nearly every player on the team created a consistent aggressive attack that kept LaBrae off balance.
At the half, the score was 34-16.
Stubbs finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds.