POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The Poland Bulldogs bounced back from a disappointing loss last week to capture a 63-52 win over the Girard Indians on the Dogs senior night.  The victory improves the Bulldogs to 14-2 overall on the season and 10-1 in the NE8.  The loss drops the Indians to 9-7, 4-7 in the league.

“Not only for conference standings because we are in the heat of a race for the conference, but mentally,” Bulldogs coach Nick Blanch stressed the importance of the victory.  “When your successful as we have been over the years, I think sometimes we get a little complacent.  The girls kind of lose that fire and think they are just going to pull things out.  I think we bounced back really well tonight.”

“This game was really important especially having gone a while without playing, a full week.  So we wanted to bounce back especially with it being senior night.  Abby (Farber), Morgan (Kluchar), and I took a lot of pride in it and took care of business,” Bulldogs senior guard Connie Cougras added.

The Bulldogs would place nine players in the scoring column, including 18 points off their bench as they pulled away from the Indians in the second-half following a 6-point lead at halftime.  Four Bulldog players would score double-digits in the contest.

Cougras and Katie McDonald each scored 13 to lead the Bulldogs on the night, followed by Morgan Kluchar with 11.  Ava Nicholudis came off the bench to record 10 points, including 2 three’s.

“We are fortunate here because we have kids that come off the bench for us that would start at a lot of other schools,” Blanch remarked.  “So they have to bite that bullet here because there are a lot of talented kids around them and Ava is a good basketball player who does a lot of good things.”

The Bulldogs shook off any despondency by jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead in the game.  They would build a 17-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.

But the Indians battled back to eventually cut the deficit down to just 5-points at 26-21 with 17-seconds remaining in the half following a jumper by Abbie Rafferty.  The Bulldogs would end up taking a 6-point, 27-21 lead into the intermission.

“Credit to them. Girard played hard tonight,” Blanch said.  “Everyone is going to get better as the year goes on.  Girard is a nice basketball team.  I’m not surprised at the way the game went tonight.”

The start of the second half was when the Bulldogs took control of the contest as they went on a 9-2 run started by a put-back bucket by Katie McDonald and a three by Mary Brant at the 6:21 mark of the third quarter.  They would go on to build a 16-point advantage by the end of the frame at 46-30.

The Bulldogs would eventually reach a game-high 18-point lead at the 6:36 point of the final period when Cougras nailed a shot from behind the arc.  That gave them a commanding 54-32 advantage.

But to the Indians credit, they finished the game strong with a 20-9 run to close the final margin to just 11 points.  The Indians Mia Milito came alive in the final stanza by scoring 10 of her 12 total game points in the frame.

“The first time we played them there was a running clock,” Indians coach Andrew Saxon remarked.  So we lost pretty badly.  We couldn’t handle the pressure and the traps.  But tonight I think we did a nice job.  I’m pleased with our performance and going into the tournament, we can probably play with anybody as long as we put the ball in the hoop.”

Sieasia Triplett led the Indians on the scoreboard with a game-high 19 points while Malito scored 12 and Abbie Rafferty added 11.  Rafferty would knock down three treys in the contest.

“The girls never quit.  They played hard. We just couldn’t, at certain times, make a basket,” Saxon said.  “Free throw shots were missed.  We missed some easy shots.  If you take that away, we have a chance to win the game.”

The Bulldogs will look to keep things rolling on Monday night when they travel to Lakeview.  The Indians will also play Monday when they host Niles.