AUSTINTOWN OH- Saturday’s district championship game definitely lived up to the hype. Poland stormed back from an eight point fourth quarter deficit but just missed victory. West Branch took it 44-43.
The Warriors, who struggled to score in last year’s district matchup with Poland found good shots early and often, and they hit them. Their only points in the first quarter were made threes. On the other end, Kailyn Brown paced the Bulldogs in the first quarter scoring all 9 of Poland’s points. She would go on to score 13 of the Bulldog’s 16 first half points. Trailing 22-13 Jackie Grisdale got a three near the buzzer of the half to make it a 22-16 deficit at half.
That shot is all Grisdale needed to get going. In the third quarter while West Branch kept shooting well from deep, Grisdale seemed to match every bucket they made. She did a great job making sure Poland just stuck around to make a run. After three Poland felt good just being down 36-29.
The fourth quarter was gut check time for the Bulldogs. The found themselves down 41-33 with 4:00 minutes left it didn’t look too promising. Grisdale buried a three to make it 41-36. She then got fouled shooting her next three and made all shots from the line to make it 41-39. After a West Branch bucket, Poland came right back down and scored. Then Grisdale found some space underneath and tied the game up with a layup with 1:08 to go. Both teams traded an empty possession and Poland ended up with the ball with and 9.1 seconds left. West Branch made a great play to jump in front of the inbound pass that led to a fast break. Poland fouled the shooter, who hit 1 out of 2 free throws. On the insuring possession West Branch fouled Grisdale and put her at the line with 3.1 seconds left. Grisdale’s first free throw stuck on the back heel of the rim. West Branch would secure the inbound and the narrow one point victory.
Jackie Grisdale led the Bulldogs with 22 points, 19 of which came in the 2nd half. Kailyn Brown finished with 13.
Poland finished the season at 22-3.