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Spartans host East in season opener

November 28, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Nobody in Spartan Nation will argue that the 2017/2018 season for the boys basketball team was a trying one.

The Boardman boys seemed to struggle from the start of the season and never found their footing. Boardman's final overall record of 9-14 left a pit in the stomach of head coach Pat Birch. The loss of four-year starter Holden Lipke and three-year starter Mike Melewski to graduation didn't make the coach feel any better. He hopes that the return of a trio of talented letter winners will help the flipping feeling in his belly and also help flip that subpar record around.

"Cam Kreps, Che Trevena and Derrick Anderson will be relied on to provide production, experience and leadership," said Birch in an email recently.

Kreps and Trevena are both seniors and will play forward and guard respectively. They will both be asked to carry some of the scoring burden left behind by Lipke's and Melewski's departure. Anderson is a junior who played extensively at guard as a sophomore. He will team with Trevena in Boardman's backcourt.

The conundrum that Birch has right now is finding complements to his above-mentioned triple threat. The only other two seniors being considered for starting time are Nick Torres and Shay Eicher. The Spartans do have a solid foundation of juniors in the mix in Connor Miller, Daeone Martin, Zac Ryan, Andrew Clark, Charlie Davis and Tommy Fryda. Sophomores Ethan Anderson and Aidan Slocum should also contribute.

"These are the other key players to keep an eye on," said Birch. "We really have 13 guys in the mix. It's a good problem to have."

The coach stressed that this group also possess quality to go along with the quantity.

"We're a deep team with a talented and capable bench," Birch said. "I really like how they push each other and genuinely care about the team's success."

If the Spartans are indeed to be successful this winter they will need to carry on the competitiveness they've displayed since the start of the offseason.

"This team demonstrated great commitment and unselfishness during our summer leagues," said Birch. "They played well together and have shown very consistent effort."

One thing the Spartans haven't shown so far is an ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc. Birch would like to see some better shooting before his team tip-offs the campaign.

"We have a lack of three-point shooting," said the veteran bench boss. "We need players to step up and score consistently from the perimeter. We have guys that are capable, but they need to prove it."

Boardman's "guys" will get their first opportunity to prove it when they host Youngstown East on Nov. 30. One quirk to Boardman's slate is when it will have to play five of six games on the road between Dec. 7 and Dec. 29 (the Dec. 8 game against Girard will be played at Poland High School). No matter where his troops play, Birch wishes that those outcomes don't end as heartbreaking as many of last season's games did.

"We were in a lot of close games last year that didn't bounce our way," Birch said. "This group seems to have learned lessons from last year."

How much the Spartans learned is still to be decided, but if some of the younger kids step up soon, it could lead to a much better basketball season in Boardman.



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