By Ryan Buck
Poland HIgh boys basketball coach Ken Grisdale was looking to see how his team would respond to disappointment.
Tuesday night’s performance was a good indication the Bulldogs can handle some.
Poland atoned for last Friday’s difficult setback to All-American Conference rival Howland with a 66-32 home victory over Boardman.
The Bulldogs hit 11 three-pointers and used a 16-0 run in the third quarter to break open a seven-point game.
Kyle Dixon and Jacob Wolfe tallied 15 and 14 points, respectively, leading 10 Bulldogs in scoring.
“That’s the key,” Grisdale said. “I think that’s when we can be a good basketball team.
“We’re not going to be a good basketball team when Wolfie’s scoring 25, 30 points. I mean, it’d be nice, but we need balance.”
Early in the second half, Boardman cut their deficit to 31-24. Bulldogs sophomore Nick Gajdos gathered his own miss, then stepped out and drilled one of his three three-pointers off an assist from Dixon.
On the next trip down the floor, it was Dixon’s turn as the sophomore forced a steal at one end and hit one of his four threes to put Poland ahead 37-24.
The quick response from Poland sent the Spartans into a tailspin. Boardman didn’t score for the rest of the quarter and converted only four second-half field goal attempts.
“Part of it is the problem we’ve been having all season and that’s putting the ball in the basket,” Boardman coach Pat Birch said. “To me that has a ripple effect.
“You don’t shoot well, then your defense suffers and a good team like Poland’s going to make you make shots.”
Reggie Jones’ second-quarter shot was the Spartans’ only three-pointer. When they missed, Poland commanded the glass as well with a 33-23 rebounding edge.
“If they’re going to beat us, we wanted them to beat us from the perimeter and not [Sam] Mathey getting to the hoop with penetration and now if we do send help [defense] their offensive rebounds are now there,” Grisdale said. “So I think we cleaned that up in the second half.”
The Bulldogs can now focus on Friday’s showdown at archrival Canfield. The Cardinals lead the Bulldogs by a game in the race for the AAC American Division title.