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Lady Spartans perfect in Orlando

January 2, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The city of Orlando is usually associated with fantasy and amusement.

When the Boardman girls basketball team traveled to that exciting Florida town it meant something even better. It meant a championship in one of the nation's largest annual events.

Boardman's ladies won three games in a row to capture the prestigious KSA Orlando Holiday Tournament. The finale was a 56-43 triumph over West Forsyth, Georgia last Saturday.

It took a while for the Lady Spartans to warm up against West Forsyth. The Lady Wolverines built a 14-4 lead just five minutes into the contest. That lead would extend into halftime when the Wolverines held a 29-24 advantage.

"We started slowly," said Boardman head coach Jeff Hammerton in a text after the game.

That slow start was erased quickly in the third quarter when pressure defense enabled Hammerton's group to go on a 19-9 run. That streak shot the Spartans to a 5-point lead heading into the final period.

"We used a full court press in the third quarter to go on a run," said Hammerton.

A 13-5 advantage for the Spartans in the fourth quarter clinched them the title. Reagan Burkey bombed five three-pointers to end the game with 20 points. Maria Torres got hot in the second half and scored 13 points. She was also perfect from the foul line. Katie Stamp was sensational on both ends of the floor with 13 points and fourteen rebounds. Alicia Saxton scored 8 points for the Spartans.

It took another comeback for the Boardman kids to advance to the championship round. A 20-5 run by the Spartans in the third quarter brought them back from a huge early deficit. That momentum spurred the Spartans to a thrilling 43-41 win over Marion, Kentucky.

The Kentucky kids scored the game's first nine points and it looked as if Boardman would be spending the rest of its weekend at the Magic Kingdom. Tougher defense allowed the local girls to stem the tide and climb back into the contest.

"We were fighting from behind the whole first half and into the second half," Hammerton said.

Marion started applying pressure late in the game, which forced Boardman into a few too many turnovers. The game was tied at 41 with seven seconds remaining when Torres stepped up to become a hero. A missed shot by Marion ended up in Burkey's hands. The sophomore slipped the ball to Saxton who found Torres for the game-clinching jumper. Torres would end with 15 points and seven rebounds. Burkey brought home 12 points. Cate Green garnered five points and played "a great defensive game" according to Hammerton. Stamp scored four points.

There was no comeback needed in the tournament opener when Boardman beat up Cristo Ray Catholic 59-14. Stamp secured her fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and ten rebounds. Torres nailed three triples to finish with 13 points. Burkey had a pair of threes' herself and 13 points as well. Green had 10 points and six steals. Sophomore Serene Khatib banged home three three-pointers.

Coach Hammerton hopes his girls can keep the wave of momentum started in the Sunshine State when the Spartans battle 2-6 Youngstown East on Jan. 3. A much larger test will occur on Jan. 5 when Boardman travels to unbeaten Poland.



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