Poland downs Fitch, stays unbeaten
By John Bassetti
Senior Brandon Barringer referred to Poland’s 11-0 record now as being in the driver’s seat.
After leading the Bulldogs with 17 points in Tuesday night’s 70-56 All-American Conference cross-over game against Austintown Fitch, it’s obvious that the 5-foot-8 guard was behind the wheel.
“We have to keep up what we’re doing and, hopefully, we’ll make a big run,” Barringer said.
“I just had to come out in the third and be more aggressive. In the first half, I kind of started off slow on the offensive side, so I had to pick it up and play my own game, see the openings and penetrate and get to the rim.”
Some of Barringer’s points were after Braeden O’Shaughnessy and Michael Diaz made space or handed the ball off to a dribbling, then driving Barringer. He finished the game with a team-high 17 points.
“Whatever the defense gives you and whatever the coach calls, you’ve got to hustle,” Barringer said of his role.
Daniel Kramer added 15 points, O’Shaughnessy 13, Diaz 11 and Bill Orr 12 to round out the starting five players’ double-digit outputs.
Coach Ken Grisdale noted that his team’s 11-0 record is a sign of confidence.
“Barringer and Diaz aren’t big in stature, but they do a great job putting pressure on the ball,” Grisdale said. “I wouldn’t want to handle the ball against them the whole game because they put a ton of pressure on.”
This season, Poland was built around Kramer and O’Shaughnessy, who were leading scorers last year and all-league players and now Orr, a role player as a junior last year, has stepped up. He had nine first-quarter points and seven rebounds.
“(Orr) was solid on the boards and got points early when we needed it,” Grisdale said. “We have a nice blend now that, with four starters coming back this season, Orr had the confidence to make a nice fifth [starter].”
Fitch coach Brian Beany said that his players got within 38-34 early in third period before Poland outscored the Falcons, 12-1, to take a 50-35 lead.
“We have to capitalize and didn’t. We missed a God-amount of two-three footers in there. You’ve got to capitalize when you’ve got an opportunity. You can’t miss easy shots from five feet, you’ve got to put those in the basket because they’re going to come down at the other end and make you pay for it.”
Beany gave Kramer some credit for altering some shots by the Falcons, but didn’t let his team off the hook.
“He’s a 6-6 guy inside who can jump, but some of those were just point-blank misses we had when he wasn’t even in the paint at that time,” He said.
Kramer had a game-high nine rebounds and two blocked shots.
Although Fitch’s Randy Smith had a game-high 21 points, Beany wasn’t happy that Fitch (5-6) was 10 of 24 from 3-point range.
“There was a stretch there when we couldn’t put it [a 3-point goal attempt] in the ocean,” Beany said. “You’ve got to be able to gun the basketball against them because they’re going to spread you out.”
Poland also shot better from the field: 28 of 53 to Fitch’s 19 of 51.