Poland stifles Niles in NE8 romp
By Greg Gulas
The Poland High School girls basketball team hasn’t had any problems this season putting the ball through the hoop.
It’s the Bulldogs’ defense, however, that’s been downright offensive.
Jackie Grisdale had a game-high 15 points, Sarah Bury added 14 and the Bulldogs’ defense held Niles to single-digit scoring all four quarters in Thursday’s 70-16 win.
“We always want to start out with the easier shots, then look for three’s as the game progresses,” Grisdale said. “Tonight, they gave us the outside shot and we took advantage of it.
“We played hard defensively while the gameplan was to put pressure on the ball and hopefully force some turnovers.”
Brandi Baker’s triple 38 seconds into the game got the Red Dragons (6-8, 5-2 Northeast 8) off on the right foot. It was their only lead in their fourth straight loss.
A triple by Bury and three-point play by Morgan Kluchar helped Poland (13-0, 6-0) reel off the next 16 points.
“We know that Niles starts fast, so we wanted to come out strong and play tough defense,” Bury said. “We had plenty of defensive intensity tonight and it’s our defense that leads to our offense. We’re always looking for the fast-break layup.”
Two triples by Grisdale in the second quarter and a crafty defense that held the Red Dragons to just two buckets helped the Bulldogs open a 36-11 lead at the intermission.
“They had two starters out tonight and that really hurt them,” Bulldogs head coach Nick Blanch said of Niles. “The gameplan was to play up-tempo, apply pressure, get rebounds and push the ball, hoping to get them to play faster than they want to.
“Jackie is one of the hardest workers we have on the team and her success comes directly from the hard work that she puts in each day,” Blanch said. “Sarah became the sixth girls player [at Poland] to score 1,000 points and as she goes, we go.
“She’s our motivator, our coach on the floor and the one who encourages everyone,” Blanch said.
“We had 10 players score tonight and that’s our strength. We play as a team and you cannot just focus on one or two players. We have plenty of scorers and aren’t one dimensional.”
Poland opened a 53-13 lead after three quarters, outscoring Niles 17-2 in the third quarter.
The Red Dragons were limited to five points in the second half.
“They respond to Coach Blanch,” Niles coach Makayla Butler said of the Bulldogs. “He’s a great coach, a great guy and he’s doing great things with their basketball program.”
Poland has won 31 of its past 36 games. Niles shot 7-for 51 while Poland made 27 of 28 attempts.
Kat Partika’s six rebounds helped Poland to a 43-30 advantage.
Lindsay Hayes and Nae Fryer each scored four points for the Red Dragons.