Kramer, O’Shaughnessy power Poland to romp to avenge loss to Canfield
By Tom Williams
Canfield senior forward Kyle Gamble has spent years playing against Poland’s Dan Kramer and Braeden O’Shaughnessy. He doesn’t recall ever seeing the top Bulldogs play better than they did in Wednesday’s 64-30 win over Gamble’s Cardinals.
”Not that I can remember,” said Gamble after the Division II district semifinal game at Boardman High School. “That was a great game by them and a not-so-great game by us.”
Kramer scored 22 points and made six rebounds while O’Shaughnessy contributed 21 points, five rebounds and three steals.
“We were hitting on all cylinders,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We executed our gameplan perfectly.”
Ahead 17-10 after one quarter, Kramer and O’Shaughnessy ignited a 28-8 second quarter that put the game out of reach.
“Braeden played on of the best floor games,” Poland coach Ken Grisdale said. “I’ve never seen him seeing [teammates so well], hit people like he did tonight.
“His vision was amazing.”
Poland’s dominance continued in third quarter with an 11-3 run and 35-point lead that triggered a running clock for the final frame.
Kramer said he can’t remember a better performance in an important game.
“I don’t think so,” Kramer sad. “We’ve been preparing all week for this, probably the best [game] preparation we’ve had.
“We really wanted this one — they got us early in the season,” Kramer said. ”We wanted this game more than any other game.”
O’Shaughnessy said the Bulldogs (22-2) felt they needed to make a statement because of their regular season-loss to Canfield in the second game of the season.
“We came out and we really didn’t know ourselves as a team yet,” O’Shaughnessy said of the loss in the United Way Classic hosted by Poland.
“They came out and played a great first quarter and they beat us that night.
“Tonight we wanted to give them a statement win and that’s what we did.”
Grisdale remembers the Bulldogs rallying then stumbling,
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” Grisdale said of the December contest. “They executed really well, they were up 25-11 at the end of the first quarter.
“We came back and got the lead but we lost by four — it’s one that stuck with us.”
Although Poland and Canfield no longer are league rivals, Grisdale said the intensity between the two schools remains intact.
“They love to play us, we love to play them,” said Grisdale, a Canfield graduate who has been Poland’s head coach for 26 seasons. “With so much on the line tonight, the kids were locked in.”
Jeff McAuley came off the bench to score eight for the Bulldogs, whose only other loss was to Boardman on Dec. 28.
Gamble scored 11 points to lead the Cardinals (13-12). Joe Bruno scored eight points and Conor Crogan seven.
“That was the end of my basketball career,” said Gamble, who will study engineering at Youngstown State University. “You can always wish for more, but I enjoyed every moment [playing basketball].”
Poland advances to Saturday’s district championship game. The opponent will be the winner of tonight’s other semifinal between Chaney and Lakeview.
The Poland Athletic Department is selling tickets for Saturday’s 4 p.m. game today from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-noon. Prices are $4 for students and $6 for adults. Tickets at the gate will cost $6.
It’s a busy week for Poland fans. The girls team will play Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on Friday at 7 p.m. at Barberton High School in a Division II regional final. The winner will earn a trip to Columbus.
“It’s great for Poland basketball.” O’Shaughnessy said. “When it happens, you’ve got to live in the moment. Good luck to the girls.”