Poland pays back Edgewood
By BOB ETTINGER
Braeden O’Shaughnessy knew the Poland boys basketball team had reached the point that the result wasn’t about who was the better team or even which team was going to execute better in a matchup wuth undefeated and state-ranked Edgewood.
He knew the Bulldogs had reached the point where the team willing to go the furthest with nothing in the tank was going to be victorious.
O’Shaughnessy had no intention of letting the Bulldogs, ranked 10th in the most recent Division II Associated Press poll, fall short as he led them to a 68-60 overtime victory.
“We were down seven at the half,” said O’Shaughnessy, who finished with 41 points. “We chipped our way back into the game. As soon as we got to overtime, it was about who wanted it more. We hit our free throws. That’s what it came down to. They missed a couple at timely moments. We hit the shots and got the win.”
The Bulldogs (16-2) returned a favor to the Warriors (17-1), ranked 10th in the Division III AP poll almost a year to the day in the making.
“Last year, we were 17-0 and went up to their place,” Poland coach Ken Grisdale said. “Their gym was unbelievable. We dropped the game, 68-61, or something like that. That was our whole regular season. One thing we talked about, though it wasn’t a big thing, was turnabout is fair play. We wanted to send them home feeling the way we felt coming home last year.”
Poland trailed, 54-50, until O’Shaughnessy hit a 3-pointer with 52 seconds left in regulation. Edgewood was just 1 of 3 on two trips to the line before O’Shaughnessy’s putback tied the game at 55 with 18 seconds left in regulation.
Edgewood missed a 3-pointer and couldn’t secure a rebound as the game went to overtime.
“It never would’ve got to overtime if we hit our foul shots,” Edgewood coach John Bowler said. “We were very tired (going into overtime). We don’t have a deep bench. But foul shots and turnovers killed us. Give Poland credit. They’re very good.”
O’Shaughnessy’s triple with 2:46 left in the extra period gave the Bulldogs the lead for good at 60-58. He added a pair of free throws a minute and a half later before Daniel Kramer, with a pair of free throws, made it a two-possession game, 64-58, with 41 seconds to go.
“They’re tough kids,” Grisdale said. “We’re not the biggest or fastest team. We don’t shoot the best. But we battle. The Edgewood kids did, too. It was a great game. Those people in the stands got their money’s worth. Those were two teams competing their tails off.”
The Warriors led, 29-22, at the half, but Kramer scored six points the Bulldogs allowed just one to get Poland within a bucket, 30-28, with 6:36 remaining in the third. O’Shaughnessy’s jumper tied the game at 30 just five seconds later.
“That was the plan,” Kramer said of his outburst to open the second half. “They wanted me to cut off the screens and go straight to the hoop. They wanted me to attack and try to draw the foul.”
O’Shaughnessy and Kramer victimized the Edgewood defense for 61 combined points.
“O’Shaughnessy is just a good player,” Bowler said. “He’s a scorer. You can guard him, double-team him, but he’ll find a way to score. Kramer’s a good player, too. Two guys scored 60 points. We didn’t have an answer for them.”
Kramer finished with 20 points. Jacob Zappitelli led the Warriors with 15 points and Aaron Anderson had 14.
O’Shaughnessy’s output fell just shy of the school-record of 44 points in a game.
“If it’s in his power, he’s not going to let you down,” Grisdale said. “If he hit his foul shots, he’d have broken the school record. We kind of teased him about that in the locker room. He’s a special player.”