Poland pulls away from Howland on foul shots
Bury scores game-high 15
as Bulldogs take down Tigers
By BOB ETTINGER
Sarah Bury is fully aware of what makes the Poland girls basketball team dangerous and she used it to her advantage as she helped the Bulldogs charged ahead of Howland early in the third quarter on Monday night at Howland.
A near-perfect string of free throws helped Poland pull away for a 37-28 victory. Bury led the Bulldogs with 15 points.
Poland head coach Nick Blanch said the victory was Poland’s first over Howland “in at least 13 years.”
“It was just our defensive intensity turning into offense,” Bury said. “We played well on defense and that’s what we wanted. We turned defense into offense.”
Bury scored four of the first five points of the second half for the Bulldogs (2-0) as they turned an 11-11 halftime tie into a 16-11 advantage with 5:45 remaining in the third.
“[Those first few minutes] were so important,” Bury said. “We knew, in the third quarter, [Howland] would come out guns blazing. We had to play our best basketball and we did.”
Bury’s drive opened scoring 35 seconds into the second half. Kailyn Brown’s free throw and a jumper in the lane from Bury was nearly half Poland’s offensive output through the first 16 minutes.
Ashley Chambers ended Poland’s run for the Tigers (3-1) with a jumper before Morgan Kluchar’s free throw and Marlie McConnell’s 3-pointer extended the Poland lead to seven, 20-13, with 2:36 to play in the third.
Poland led by as many as eight, 25-17, following a triple from Jackie Grisdale with 6:17 to go in the fourth.
Howland got to within five, 25-20, with behind a free throw from Alex Ochman and a bucket from Kayla Clark with 5:43 left. Ochman led the Tigers with 11 points, but was 1 for 9 at the foul line.
“We just always have to play our hardest,” Bury said. “We know an eight-point game can swing back to a two-point game. We had to play our hardest.”
Over the next 3:20, Poland was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line to push its advantage to 34-22 with 2:09 to play.
“At the end, you can say [the five-point run to open the third] was the difference maker, but this game was down to the wire,” Blanch said. “We knew it would be a battle for four quarters because they had a lot more height. Our kids sold their guts out. It would’ve been a different game and Howland would’ve been in it to the end if didn’t make our free throws.
“The girls worked hard. We had to outwork them down low. We knew they were bigger and stronger. We had to body up on them and that’s just effort. Our slogan was heart over height. I’m incredibly proud of my kids. This was the first time we’ve beaten Howland in at least 13 years.”
Bury connected on all four of her attempts, Brooke Bobbey and Grisdale each made a pair and McConnell had another.
Freshman Alyssa Pompelia scored the Tigers’ final points with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a layup off a steal and assist from fellow frosh Kylie McClain over the final 34 seconds.
McConnell’s layup broke a 3-3 tie with 14 seconds remaining in the opening period.
Maria Dellimuti assisted on consecutive buckets from Clark and Pompelia to put Howland in front, 9-8, with 5:36 to play in the half before Mia Gajdos’ free throw tied it at 11-11 with 3:16 to go in the half.