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Poland defense shuts down Howland, 59-28

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes — Alyssa Pompelia (11) of Howland drives in on Kailyn Brown of Poland on Monday night. Pompelia had a team-high 10 points in the losing effort at Poland.

POLAND — Poland senior Kailyn Brown knew it was going to be a special night before the opening tip-off even took place.

Although the Bulldogs clinched a home game in the postseason tournament, Monday night was the final time four seniors stepped on the hardwood at Poland during the regular season.

“I was actually thinking before the game when we were doing the National Anthem,” Brown said. “I was thinking, this is my last (regular season home) game, I got to play my heart out and I thought I did.”

Brown made the most of the opportunity presented to her, as the senior chalked up a career-high 19 points, along with three 3-pointers during Poland’s 59-28 rout of the visiting Howland Tigers.

“I honestly can not tell you what I did, but I think I just locked in,” she said. “Everybody was just passing me the ball, Jackie (Grisdale) got me some great passes, (and) I have some amazing teammates behind me.”

Poland coach Nick Blanch said that facing teams like Howland will better his team for the postseason.

“It’s a big win. Every time you get a challenge you want to come out and do your best, especially this time of the year,” he said. “You want to be clicking on all cylinders and that’s why we schedule Howland and Canfield at the end of the season.

“We want good quality opponents going into the tournament to see we we’re at. I don’t believe in walking through cupcakes and fooling yourself, I want good challenges to see what where we’re at. Even on a win like tonight, we still have things we have to clean up.”

It was a slow first quarter scoring-wise and Poland held the Tigers scoreless for the first six minutes of the game until Alyssa Pompelia hit a layup for Howland’s first points. The Bulldogs held a 25-8 edge at halftime, and controlled a 45-12 lead at the end of the third.

“I think we’re like little gnats,” she said. “We’re in your face, we’re quick, we’re going to get to the ball.

“We’re going to make our rotations correctly and we’re going to go for the ball, we’re going to play our hardest and we’re going to play for each other, which I think is really important.”

Howland was led by Pompelia who had 10 points, along with Kylie McClain with seven. The Tigers fall to 11-10, but coach John Diehl is looking forward to their postseason game at home on Saturday in the Division I Ravenna District.

“I like our seeding, we went and watched Twinsburg play, they have two really good guards,” he said. “Their post players are average, but their guards are really quick and can score.

“I thought tonight we could have done a little better job containing Grisdale and (Brooke) Bobbey. I mean you got three kids back from a regional final team that kind of carried them last year, they’re going to carry them again. We’re young, we’re OK.”

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