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Spartans earn sectional crown with 44-41 win over Dover

March 6, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

For most of this season the Boardman boys basketball team has gotten the best of its opponents by lighting up the scoreboard.

One aspect of this twenty win Boardman bunch that may have gotten overlooked, however, was its defense. The Spartans only allowed their adversaries to eclipsed 50 points in just eight of 23 games. There have also been three games when the Spartans kept their foes' score under 40. That tenacious "D" was on display again last Saturday night when third seeded Boardman battled number six seed Dover at home in the Division I sectional championship. Defensive pressure all game forced the Dover kids into multiple mistakes as the Spartans secured the sectional crown 44-41. They will now advance to Canton to take on Green in the district semifinals.

"We played well defensively all night," said Boardman head coach Pat Birch following the sectional clincher. "It was an awesome crowd (at home) and we felt that energy."

There wasn't much energy on the offensive end in the first half as both teams struggled shooting the basketball. The first quarter was played to an 11-11 tie, then Boardman took the second quarter 7-4 for an 18-15 halftime lead. While the home team's defense was getting hot in the second stanza, it exploded in the third. Two huge contributors to that effort were Derrick Anderson and Che Trevena who both upped their defensive intensity to take the wind out of the Tornadoes. Anderson had three steals and seven rebounds and Trevena took six steals away from Dover. A few deflections caused by Boardman's in-the-face pressure also allowed the local boys to score off of easy layups. Birch's brood built a 10-point lead after a layup by Trevena and a three-pointer by Daeone Martin. That triple was Martin's only successful shot on the night.

"We wanted to get a big lead and we did in the third," Birch said. "Both (Anderson and Trevena) found another gear. They showed their versatility on both offense and defense."

Offensively, Anderson scored 18 points and handed out four assists. Trevena totaled 13 points.

Not only did Birch brag about his dynamic all-around duo, but he also gave a shout out to a few other Spartans who helped save the game from the defensive end.

"Ethan Andersen was strong with defensive pressure and rebounding," said the coach. "Connor Miller and Cam Kreps had great contributions defensively too."

Dover didn't allow that third period defensive domination to totally ruin its run at the sectional title. The visitors cut the lead back down to six points midway through the final period. A couple of late threes made the score 44-41 in favor of Boardman with a few seconds remaining. After the Spartans failed to put the game away, the Tornadoes took two more turns trying to tie the tilt from beyond the arc. Both attempts went awry, but the final one had the Boardman bench holding its collective breaths.

"That last three felt like it was in the air for an eternity," Birch said. "We came up with one last stop at the end."

Now Boardman will try to stop a very talented Green gang. The Bulldogs are the number two seed in the Canton district and are coming off a 46-36 knockout of Uniontown Lake in their sectional final. This showdown will take place on March 7 at the Canton Civic Center at 7 p.m. The winner of this contest has the potential to take out number one seed Massillon Jackson if it is to succeed in its district semi game.



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