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Boardman boys bow out of district semifinal with loss to Green

March 13, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A breakout season for the Boardman boys basketball team ended a couple wins shy of a district championship.

The third seeded Boardman boys were upended by number two seed Green 61-47 last Thursday night in the district semifinals played at the Canton Civic Center. The loss ended a spectacular ride for the Spartans which saw them win 20 out of 24 games this season.

"We were unable to keep the magic alive in the district semi game," stated Boardman head coach Pat Birch shortly after the season ending setback. "We had a mix of different emotions. On one hand we were very disappointed that we couldn't get the job done and move on to the district championship. On the other hand, I could not be prouder of our team and our community."

For 16 minutes, it seemed as if the Spartans were going to pull a rabbit out of the hat. They led the slightly favored Bulldogs 28-27 at halftime. Part of that slim advantage was built by a good Boardman defense that forced the Bulldogs into some shaky shooting. The third period was a totally different situation however. Green's shooters started finding their stroke and went on a 17-7 run to take a 44-35 lead. A 12 for 15 performance from the floor in the final frame allowed the higher seed to win rather comfortably.

"We struggled in the third quarter while Green began hitting their shots," said Birch. "(Green) took control of the game in the third quarter."

Despite battling foul trouble throughout the contest, Boardman's sensational Derrick Anderson was still able to lead the team with 16 points and three steals. This game was just the icing on an amazing season for the junior guard. Anderson led Boardman in scoring and was near the top in assists and rebounds. He was recently voted 1st team All-Northeast Ohio due to those wonderful numbers.

"I am proud of Derek for being recognized," Birch said. "He is a very humble young man who works every day to get better. He is a special talent who has loads of potential."

Senior Che Trevena was the only other Spartan scorer in double figures with 11 points. Like Anderson, Trevena totaled three steals. Tommy Fryda finished the contest with seven points. Six-foot-six forward Ethan Andersen completed a spectacular sophomore season with six points and five rebounds. Senior Cam Kreps played his final game as a Spartan and scored four points while grabbing five rebounds. Nick Torres and Shay Eicher were another pair of seniors who had "valuable contributions" according to their coach last Thursday evening.

Despite being sent home from Canton minus a district trophy, these Spartans still had plenty to smile about on the bus ride back. The 20 wins posted by Birch's boys were the most for a Boardman group since 1974. Included in those 20 triumphs were signature wins at Poland, who only lost one other game and won its own district championship, and an unbeaten record inside the All American Conference's Red Tier that netted the Spartans a league title. Boardman also beat Dover on the first weekend of March to capture a sectional championship. Those accomplishments were not lost on Coach Birch who saw this season as a springboard for future tournament success.

"This team raised the standard of Boardman Spartan basketball and will forever be remembered," he said. "We had a group of kids exhibit a team mentality on a daily basis and a community who rallied behind us all season."

The expected returns of Anderson, Andersen, Fryda and Daeone Martin should allow Birch to carry lofty expectations into next winter. Juniors Zach Ryan, Connor Miller and Charlie Davis all played minutes in the loss to Green and all contributed at times during Boardman's beautiful regular season run. That trio should also be ready to roll once their senior seasons start.

Also expected to return will be Birch who joined Anderson with All NEO honors. He was named the co-winner of the NEO Inland Coach of the Year along with Akron St.-Vincent-St Mary's Dru Joyce II. Naturally, Boardman's award winning mentor was humbled by the announcement.

"I'm honored to be selected," said Birch. "It's a testament to our coaching staff and our players."



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