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Dogs on top of two close games

January 11, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A couple of closely contested clashes kept the Poland boys basketball team unbeaten in 2017/2018.

The struggle was real for the Bulldogs in 59-55 and 54-53 wins over Boardman and Struthers last week, but the end result is a 9-0 record. Poland is also a perfect 4-0 in the All American Conference.

Things were certainly shaky for the Bulldogs against Struthers on Jan. 4. The visiting Wildcats went wild in the first period and opened a 16-6 lead on the stunned home team. The Bulldogs battled back and went on a 14-2 run to take a two-point lead in the second quarter. The supposedly outmanned Wildcats would stand their ground, however, and kept the pressure on Poland all second half. In fact, Struthers would maintain a 53-49 lead with a minute left to play. That's when Mike Masucci managed to hit a huge 3-pointer to pull Poland to within one point. With 30 seconds remaining, Poland's big-time player made a big time shot. Braeden O'Shaughnessy stepped up and calmly sank a fade-away jump shot from the baseline to give the Bulldogs a one-point advantage. Struthers was not able to match O'Shaughnessy's heroics and Poland stayed perfect.

Article Photos

Photos by Mike Audi, Town Crier

Bulldogs junior standout Braeden O'Shaughnessy sinks a layup in the first half of last Wednesday's (Jan.3) home win over Struthers. O'Shaughnessy scored 11 points for the Dogs including a a fade away jump shot with less than 30 seconds on the clock to win the game by 54-53.

Mike Diaz was Poland's leading scorer on the night with 13 points. O'Shaughnessy used his hot fourth quarter to finish with 11.

As is the case for any team that has lasted unbeaten this far into a season, a different conqueror took over for Poland in the win at Boardman. Senior Brandon Barringer beat up Boardman with 23 points in his team's slim victory a couple nights after Christmas. In the first half it seemed as if the Spartans were still celebrating the holiday because the Bulldogs raced to a 37-21 halftime lead. A 79% shooting performance by Poland aided that effort. Uncharacteristically, the Bulldogs seemed to rollover after intermission as the home team closed to within 49-43 after three quarters. Boardman continued its fight into the fourth frame and actually took the lead with 1:15 left to play. A huge foul by Boardman on a three-point shot by Poland enabled the Bulldogs to tie the game from the foul line. A layup by the Bulldogs after a missed offensive rebound by Boardman pushed Poland to another win.

Staying unbeaten will be rough for the Bulldogs because their next three games are brutal. Poland played at 5-3 Hubbard on Monday. This season's first showdown with division rival Edgewood takes place this Friday, Jan. 12, in Poland. Edgewood tied the Bulldogs for the conference crown a year ago and is the one team that has the tools to take Poland out this season. A visit from struggling Austintown Fitch faces the Bulldogs on Jan. 16. Even though the Falcons have fallen on hard times, they always pose a colossal threat.



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