Young team – slow start

Raiders’ inexperience shows in second loss

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Warren G. Harding’s Dom McGhee tries to score against the defense of Poland’s Michael Cougras Tuesday night at Poland. The Bulldogs defeated the Raiders, 57-40.

POLAND — Behind strong defense and a poor shooting night from Warren G. Harding, Poland defeated the Raiders, 57-40, Tuesday night.

Early on it was quite the struggle for Harding (0-2) in regards to shooting. The Raiders couldn’t buy a bucket as Poland (2-0) took complete control and never looked back. The Bulldogs outscored Harding 18-7 in the first quarter as the Raiders had nine turnovers to Poland’s one.

“Being a good defensive team means maturity. Not as men but as basketball players. We are just not a mature basketball team. We are an incredibly inexperienced team,” Harding coach Andy Vlajkovich said.

That immaturity basketball-wise continued to show in the second quarter as well. Poland continued its offensive and defensive display and led the Raiders, 27-15, at halftime. Despite Dom McGhee’s nine first-half points, Harding couldn’t find a rhythm.

“We want to be a team that can control the pace of the game the way we want it,” Poland coach Ken Grisdale said. “We really tried to pack the lane as much as we could. They were really good at penetrating and passing out to shooters while hitting the glass hard.”

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Warren G. Harding’s D’Muntize Owens, rear, tries to stop Poland’s Mike Diaz Tuesday night in the Raiders’ 57-40 loss to the Bulldogs at Poland.

In the second half, Harding started to find some better offense but it seemed too little too late. Poland got out to a 37-23 lead midway through the third quarter before Harding got to the free throw line. Two missed free throws at that point didn’t help as Poland then went on a 7-0 run after that.

“We have just two lettermen back from last year. That group is busting it in practice for me, they really are,” Vlajkovich said. “It’s not translating right now to live play. We are going to have some pretty lengthy film sessions. We are a work in progress. They know that and I know that.”

Although the Raiders didn’t put a lot of points on the scoreboard, McGhee was by far the best shooter on the floor as he dropped 23 points, which included four 3-pointers.

On the Poland side, just four players scored but three of them were in double figures. Braeden O’Shaughnessy led the Bulldogs with 21 points, including eight in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Mike Diaz and Brandon Barringer scored 14 apiece.

“Barringer and Diaz are both defensive backs and are really good at seeing lanes and all that. It’s hard to score in the half-court so we have to take the easy ones,” Grisdale said. “We told them that turnovers are going to give them a chance to get a transition bucket. We were worried about that but it went the other way for us.”