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Spartans still struggle to break losing streak

January 11, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A five-game losing streak was not exactly how the Boardman boys basketball team wanted to enter the new calendar year.

Thanks to a loss to Howland on Jan. 5, that is exactly the sad skid that is now staring the struggling Spartans in the face. Boardman's 71-63 loss at Howland means the Spartans haven't tasted victory since December 15. They have fallen to 3-6 overall on the season and 1-2 inside the All American Conference.

The tussle with the Tigers actually started off fine for the Spartans. Some good shooting from long range in the first half had the Boardman kids only down one point at halftime. In the second half, however, the Tigers flexed a little more muscle than the Spartans and were able to bully Boardman on the boards. Better offensive rebounding allowed Howland to attain a bunch of second chance points as it outscored the Spartans 39-32 over the final sixteen minutes. Howland had a 49-27 rebounding advantage. The Tigers domination on the glass also allowed Howland to get the Spartans out of the nice offensive rhythm they owned in quarters one and two.

"When things go bad we quit sharing the basketball," said Boardman head coach Pat Birch following the loss. "Our offense is predicated on ball movement. When we do that we have a lot of guys who can make reversals and get in the paint and score."

Holden Lipke and Che Trevena were the only two Spartans to top ten points versus the Tigers with 16 and 12 respectively. Lipke was the lone bright spot on the boards for Boardman with six rebounds. Connor Miller and Billy Cammack each collected eight points in the losing effort. Ryan Archey accounted for seven points.

That loss in Trumbull County came on the heels of one Boardman suffered in Austintown. On December 29, the Falcons stuffed the Spartans 72-58. Once again, Boardman did well early gaining an 18-15 first quarter lead. Fitch fired back in the second quarter and went on a 28-12 run to take a double-digit lead into the locker room. The Spartans could never recover from that subpar second stanza. Boardman's lack of three-point shooting was a big factor in this loss. A 4-21 night from behind the arc looked even worse because Fitch nailed 50% of its triples. Archey was one Spartan who was on target all game nailing a pair of threes and finishing with 23 points. Trevena scored 12 points while Mike Melewski came home with seven.

Although Birch's boys fought hard against Poland, they still weren't able to upend the Bulldogs in a 59-55 loss. Despite a nearly 80% shooting night by the Bulldogs, the Spartans were able to make things interesting late in the game. Boardman came all the way back from as many as 16 points behind and took the lead with 1:15 left to play. Missed opportunities by Boardman in the final minute cost them the contest. Lipke led the way for the Spartans with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Archey added 13 points. Trevena took home 11 points.

A visit to Youngstown East this Friday may just be the medicine the Spartans need to overcome the sickness of this five game slide. The Golden Bears have given up 155 points over their last two losses and have lost three out of four games. One day after traveling to East, the Spartans will play host to Hudson.



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