By Steve Ruman
It’s not exactly the Harlem Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals, but it’s pretty close.
Sure, there have been more than a few hotly contested games, and even some controversial endings. But when all is said and done, when Poland and Niles meet on the basketball court, the results are almost a foregone conclusion.
The trend continued Friday as the Bulldogs earned a 66-45 road win over the Red Dragons. The game was the first for Poland in Niles’ newly constructed Veterans Gymnasium.
Poland (2-0) has won 31 of its last 32 games against Niles, including 17 straight.
Niles falls to 1-1.
“We’re very fortunate, I’ll tell you that much,” Poland coach Ken Grisdale said. “Niles comes to play every night, and they are always a well-coached team. We’ve just been very fortunate to have the edge the way that we do.”
On Friday, the Bulldogs were very physical and dominating under the boards. They outrebounded Niles 45-51, and turned numerous missed shots into second-chance scores.
Bulldogs junior Dan Black led all scorers with 20 points, while Kyle Dixon came off the bench to score 18. Jacob Wolfe chipped in with eight points and had a game-high nine rebounds.
“Dan did a great job of using his body and finishing plays,” Grisdale said. “Kyle didn’t start because he suffered an injury [Tuesday], but he came in and shot very well, and kept our offense in the flow.”
“We’re still in a situation where we have a lot of things to iron out. Because of the late football season we haven’t had many practices and we’ve had just one scrimmage. We played a little sloppy in the beginning, but I’m happy with the way we finished.”
Niles was led by seniors Kyle Paden (12 points) and Justin Lopes (10 points, five rebounds).
“You just can’t have a bad quarter against a team like Poland and get away with it,” Dragons coach Ron Price said. “We did right out of the gate, and we had to play catch-up the rest of the night. We made some runs, but we put ourselves in too much of a hole”
Price was referring to an 18-5 lead Poland grabbed after one period of play. Black led the charge with six points in the quarter. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 33-19 at halftime and were by as many as 17 in the third quarter before Niles cut its deficit to 37-27 on back-to-back three-pointers by Kyle Paden.
However, from that point forward, Poland outscored the Dragons 29-18.
Black scored 14 of his 20 points after halftime.
“Overall, we put forth a pretty solid effort against a veteran group,” Grisdale said.