The Boardman Spartans celebrated Senior Night Feb. 8 during the girls basketball game against the Lakeside Dragons.
Nothing would've spoiled such a celebratory event than a third consecutive loss by the Lady Spartans. Boardman was coming off a pair of losses to All-American Conference Red Tier rivals Canfield and Howland, so another dud against lowly Ashtabula Lakeside would've acted as a buzz kill.
Thankfully, Boardman's 76-32 victory allowed its three seniors to have one last night of honor at home.
Photo by Jim McCreary / Town Crier
Senior Alexis Doland scores her two points on short jumper from in the paint in the fourth quarter of Boardman’s 76-32 win over Ashtabula Lakeside. The varsity Spartans then earned victories over Youngstown East, 62-38, and Cardinal Mooney, 54-45, making their overall record 12-9 and 5-7 in the All-American Conference Red Tier.
"We lost a heartbreaker to Canfield and then two days later, we had to play a very good Howland team," Boardman head coach Jeff Hammerton said "We regrouped nicely for a huge win on Senior Night. We did it for (Lauren) Gabriele, (Lauren) Pavlansky and (Alexis) Doland."
Gabriele paced the Spartans' scoring attack against Lakeside with 23 points. She also yanked down 12 rebounds. Junior Jenna Vivo had a great all-around night with 21 points, eight assists and five steals. Pavlansky put in 18 points to go along with four assists and four steals.
Five Spartans then secured double-digits in the team's 62-38 blowout of Youngstown East Saturday. Vivo led the way with 14 points. Gabriele scored 13 points. Alicia Saxton scored a dozen points. Pavlansky picked up 11 points, while Cate Green added 10.
Despite being tied with the lowly Panthers at half time, Boardman's 41-17 run in the second half earned the Spartans their third league triumph. The defensive performance by the Spartans after halft ime is the type Hammerton is hoping to see once the Division I tournament commences next week.
"We played a great second half against East," Hammerton said. "We are really working on our half court, man-to-man and zone defenses. We go long periods sometime without scoring, so we really want to focus on making every possession a difficult one for our opponents."
The varsity girls then earned a third consecutive win against Cardinal Mooney, 54-45, at the Monday nonconference road game. Vivo had a game-high 26 points to lead Boardman past the Cardinals.
Carolyn Kay led the 10-9 Cardinals with nine points for a Mooney team, which shot 16 of 48 from the floor.
Boardman's opponent in the opening game of the Akron SVSM District is Red Tier and seventh-seeded Warren G. Harding. The fifth-seeded Spartans swept the 10-12 (2-10 in the AAC Red Tier) Lady Raiders this season, but only by a combined 13 points.
That's why it will be important for Hammerton's ladies to pick up the defensive pressure once again.
"We have to be ready to play great defense because (Harding) can score in bunches," the coach said.
A win over the Raiders will send the Spartans into the sectional round against fantastic 16-5 and third-seeded Austintown Fitch.
Unlike their success against Harding, the Spartans had trouble tripping up the Lady Falcons. The Austintown girls upended the Boardman bunch in both of the schools' meetings this winter.
"It will be tough to play Fitch with a sectional crown in the balance," Hammerton said. "We play two teams (in the tournament) we know very well, so there won't be many surprises."
The tournament tilt versus Harding will be played 1 p.m. Saturday in Boardman. The winner of the first round will then battle the Austintown Falcons 7 p.m. Feb. 23 in Austintown.
Before the beginning of the postseason, the Spartans had one last remaining regular-season game Wednesday against Ursuline.