O’Shaughnessy powers Poland over Liberty
By Greg Gulas
As a freshman, Braeden O’Shaughnessy made his varsity debut for the Poland Bulldogs and head coach Ken Grisdale said he made significant contributions at both ends of the court.
Last season, he made even greater strides, yet by most standards was still considered an underclassman.
After Friday night’s all-out effort against Liberty, the junior is now ready to take the reins of the team and lead Grisdale’s Bulldogs into battle.
O’Shaughnessy led all scorers with 32 points, Dan Kramer added a double-double (10 points and 12 rebounds) and Brandon Barringer pitched in with 12 markers as the Bulldogs defeated the Leopards 73-49 in the season opener for both teams.
“As you get older, the pace becomes slower and you don’t feel like you’re just running all over the court,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Tonight, my teammates ran their lanes and fed me the ball when I was open. We’re an unselfish team that always looks for the open man. Also, this was a great example of coach Grisdale’s game plan, what he puts in and it working.”
Liberty’s Derek Gilcher scored the first points of the season on a baseline jumper just 27 seconds into the game for the early 2-0 advantage.
But Poland ran off the next 14 points, including eight by O’Shaughnessy, on its way to a 16-4 first-quarter lead.
“Braeden has the ability to be one of the very best players in the area,” Grisdale said. “He’s worked really hard, especially on his shot, and has a nose for the ball. It was a sloppy game with plenty of turnovers by both teams, but one that needed to be played. We last scrimmaged on Nov. 18, so we wanted to get on the court and play a game.”
Eight more points by O’Shaughnessy and four from Kramer in the second frame staked the Bulldogs to a 36-20 lead at intermission.
“This was our first exam and while we learned a lot about ourselves, we also found out that we have a lot to work on,” said Barringer, who scored eight of his 12 points in the opening half. “As a senior, I need to be a better leader and not as quiet as I was last year.”
Nine points by O’Shaughnessy and four more by Kramer in the third offset nine points by Liberty’s Dra Rushton as the teams each scored 17 points after intermission. Poland held a 53-37 margin heading to the final eight minutes.
“We had 31 turnovers in the game, 19 in the first half and that really hurt us,” Leopards head coach Chris Kohl said. “We’re a senior-laden team so this was a very inauspicious start to our season. Physically, Dra Rushton is one of the strongest players in the area and the player who makes us go. One game does not a season make, but the battle cry going forward is rebound.
“Give credit to coach Grisdale. His team runs, rebounds, executes, shoots well and you need to play a good fundamental when you face him.”
Leading 57-43 barely two minutes into the final period, Poland closed on a 16-6 run for its 24-point victory.
“Every win is a great win and I am happy with our win tonight, but I’m a perfectionist and we have some things we need to correct,” Grisdale said. “I’m just happy to now try to fix those things coming off a win and not a loss.”
Gilcher was the only other Leopard in double figures, adding 10 points, all in the first half.