HUBBARD — Even with the graduation of Jackie Grisdale, who finished as Poland’s all-time leading scorer across the boy’s and girl’s basketball programs and led them to two district titles over her four year playing career, the Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat as they rolled over the Hubbard Eagles 53-15 in Northeast 8 Conference play Thursday night.
“I really think this team can do a lot of good things,” Poland coach Nick Blanch said. “In the eyes of many, we’re a bunch of no names because we don’t have that superstar that everyone likes to talk about.
“We do have 10 kids that are really invested and play really well and well together. I think that’s going to turn a lot of people’s heads learning who we are as the year goes on.”
Those 10 kids set the tempo from the get go with a 12-2 lead after one.
The Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0) struggled to get their offense going in that opening frame, shooting just 3-of-12 from the floor but they were aggressive enough, shooting 5-of-7 from the charity stripe while holding the Eagles (2-1, 0-1) to 1-of-9 shooting.
“The first quarter was rough,” Blanch said. “We didn’t get some shots to fall the way we wanted to. We still pulled a lead out. Defensively, our effort was extraordinary. We want to keep building off of that. Defense is what builds the fire.”
Hubbard came into the game winners of their first two games against Campbell Memorial and Ursuline, but got off to as bad of a start as one could imagine.
“For us, we came in 2-0,” Hubbard coach Scott Slovesko said. “We’re amped up. We’re young. We haven’t been in this situation. The worst possible start, it happened. We missed some shots.”
Things didn’t improve for the Eagles shooting just 2-of-12 in the second quarter as they trailed 26-8 at the half.
The Bulldogs’ defense gave Hubbard fits all night as the Eagles made just three field goals in the second half.
“It’s the backbone of what we do,” Blanch said. “Defense will lead to offense. I’m very proud of the effort because defense is not easy. It’s not an easy concept. You have to be very unselfish when you want to trap, box out, and take charges; all the things you do sacrificing your body. Our kids did that and did it well.”
At the end of three, the Bulldogs held a commanding 41-13 lead thanks to their rotation and depth which was tenacious all game.
“As the game went on, we pulled away,” Blanch said. “Our depth came through. We were able to stay fresh out there.”
Connie Cougras led Poland with 12 points. Ariana Daniels and Ava Nicholudis each added seven a piece.
Despite the win, Blanch feels the Bulldogs have work to do as they look to recreate the success that has been the norm for the program.
“We have kids who are trying their best, but they get down on themselves a bit too quickly at times,” he added. “We’re trying to grow through that. It’s a long process to get where we need to get to, but I’m pleased with everyone’s effort. They’re working extremely hard. They just have to have confidence in themselves when things don’t go their way.”
Sophie Murphy led the Eagles with six points as only four girls got into the scoring column for Hubbard.
“You have to tip your cap to them,” Slovesko said. “They just beat us in all aspects of the game. They truly did. I give credit to them. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. They played a really good game. I have to have our girls more prepared.”