Starting fast

Grisdale sparks Bulldogs with big first quarter

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Poland junior Morgan Kluchar passes to a teammate after grabbing a loose ball at Boardman on Saturday. The Bulldogs won, 53-36.

BOARDMAN — It didn’t take long for the Poland Bulldogs to start off hot.

Specifically, senior point guard Jackie Grisdale.

One made three, then two, then three, then four. Before the first period was out she already amassed 17 and nearly had double the total amount of points Boardman had during the whole quarter.

It was all smiles for Grisdale and the Bulldogs, but the Spartans wouldn’t go down without making a defensive stand.

In fact, she wouldn’t score a field goal for the rest of the contest, and Boardman limited Poland to just six field goals for the remaining three quarters of basketball.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Boardman freshman Mackenzie Riccitelli passes the ball toward the arc during the second half against Poland.

Poland’s quick start led them to a 53-36 win on the road against a determined Spartans roster.

“I think they made some adjustments that we struggled with a little bit, and that’s credit to them,” said Bulldogs coach Nick Blanch. “But our kids played hard, I’m proud of what they did, but that’s part of it.

“You see different things, and we see a ton of different things, I mean everybody throws everything at us, so we got to be on our toes for everything. Their 1-2-2 (defense) caused us a little bit trouble and it’s stuff we’ll hit the film room with and make some adjustments and get better for the next time.”

With Poland up 33-9, it appeared that the Bulldogs (11-1) were in the driver’s seat midway through the second quarter, but Boardman senior Katie Stamp made a layup to kickstart a 12-2 run where freshman McKenzie Riccitelli contributed six out of her seven, to cut the lead down to 35-23.

Bulldogs senior Lizzy Herdman hit a three with 1:13 left before halftime, and Grisdale would knock down a pair of free throws to make it 40-23 going into the locker room.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Poland’s Jackie Grisdale shoots a three-pointer during the first quarter at Boardman. The senior guard tallied 17 points in the first ten minutes, and ended with a game-high 27 to guide the Bulldogs past the Spartans 53-36.

Boardman senior Raegan Burkey started off the scoring in the second half, and recorded one of only three field goals between the two during the entire period. Poland’s only made shot from the field came off the hands of sophomore Sarah Forsyth with 3:01 to go in the third.

Spartans (3-10) coach Brett Green was pleased with his team’s defensive effort in the second half.

“They didn’t quit, and that shows growth that they came out and just competed,” he said “That’s the one thing we’re trying to do every single day, whether its practice or in a game, we’re just trying to teach the girls how to compete all the time.”

Leading 45-30 junior Morgan Kluchar and sophomore Ariana Daniels each made shots to begin the fourth and help put the game away.

Grisdale saw areas that Poland can improve on, especially against the zone.

“I think they dropped in that zone, and that gave us fewer opportunities,” she said. “We need to work on driving and penetrating more to get more open, we can’t have that happen again where we kinda lose steam.

“But, I think it was a good sign that we started out so strong, we just have to make sure we’re working on carrying that throughout the whole game.”

Poland is now the winners of 11 in a row after dropping the season opener to Salem, including wins over strong teams out of the Mahoning Valley like Norton and Indian Creek. Seeing a few different teams and a variety of play styles has been a positive for the Bulldogs.

“It’s only going to help us improve,” Grisdale said. “We don’t get all the looks that we can in practice, just because there’s no way for our prep team to learn defenses at the level that we’re going to play against.

“So, having in-game opportunities to try and work around and through things is only going to help us in the end.”

Grisdale ended with a game-high 27, with her final 10 being on free throws throughout the last three quarters. Kluchar recorded eight, and Herdman had five.

Boardman was paced by sophomore Bella Martin and Riccitelli who each had seven.

At the midpoint in the season, Blanch and his team have game film and experience to build off.

“We have seen just about every junk defense, regular defense, zone defense, you name it, it’s all been thrown at us,” he explained. “I love it, because it gives us something to keep working on, the girls struggled tonight a little bit, but they still passed the test so to speak.

“They did what they needed to win the basketball game, and we learn from it and we move on and get better for the next time we see it.”


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