Poland nearly flawless against WGH
By MIKE McLAIN
Most coaches can find a flaw in even the best of performances, which is why they love film sessions so much.
The challenge for Ken Grisdale when he watches film of the Poland Bulldogs’ 57-40 win over the Warren G. Harding Raiders is to find something the Bulldogs did wrong. It was a thumbs-up performance from start to finish in the All-American Conference basketball game Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs (2-0) were at their best in forcing the Raiders into nine turnovers in the first quarter. Poland, conversely, turned the ball over only once in the quarter on its way to an 18-7 lead.
“The other night we had 21 [turnovers] in the game,” Grisdale said of a 73-49 win over Liberty. “We talked a lot about how we had to slow ourselves down and really take care of the ball.
“We told them that turnovers are going to give them an opportunity to get a transition bucket, and we were worried about that. It kind of went the other way because we were getting the turnovers and layups, and that’s how we were able to get the early lead.”
Harding (0-2) made a run early in the second quarter, scoring eight of the first 10 points to cut the Poland lead to 20-15. The Bulldogs scored the final seven points of the session to take a 27-15 halftime lead.
It’s been a rough start for the perennially strong Raiders, who are dealing with growing pains after losing a considerable amount of talent from last season. Coach Andy Vlajkovich has just 68 points returning from the 2016-17 season.
“It’s going to be a learning process,” Vlajkovich said. “They’re great kids. I know they’re willing to learn, but it’s going to be a process. It’s not a talent issue as much as it is an experience issue.”
The second half was all Poland, which led 44-26 after three periods and stretched the advantage to 51-30 midway through the final quarter. Junior Braeden O’Shaughnessy scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter.
“It was easier than we expected,” O’Shaughnessy said. “That’s a great team. They play hard and are good on the offensive boards. We ran our lanes and shot very well.”
The Bulldogs went from having one player with significant playing time back last season to having four lettermen this season. To get an impressive win over a quality opponent is a big step.
“We have to continue to develop our bench,” Grisdale said. “We think we can have a good team, but we’re far from where we need to be.”
Mike Diaz and Brandon Barringer both added 14 points to the Bulldogs’ scoring. Poland had a 30-29 rebounding advantage, led by O’Shaughnessy with seven.
“It’s always a big game,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s one we circle on our schedule every year. We love playing them. It’s a good win for us.”
Terrion Jackson had 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Raiders. Dom McGhee had 22 points, including four 3-pointers.