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Lady Spartans continue to struggle inside the AAC

January 29, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Boardman's girls basketball team entered its game at Warren Harding last Wednesday desperate for a win inside the All American Conference.

To say that the Lady Spartans have been struggling inside the AAC would be an understatement. Boardman's girls have begun the season winless in the Red Tier and were looking for any semblance of momentum for the stretch drive of the season. Unfortunately, that signature win would not come on the home court of the 14-2 Lady Raiders. Harding, who coincidentally is also unbeaten in the conference, hammered the Spartans from the get-go in their matchup. A 21-11 run in the opening quarter by the hosts was followed by an offensively challenged second stanza that saw Harding win 9-6. Regardless of that lack of scoring, the Raiders still led 30-17 at halftime. Boardman would only score 15 points combined after intermission as it fell hard at Harding 65-31.

"We need to start to shoot with more confidence," said first year Boardman head coach Justin Coffin about his girls' offensive ineptitude.

It wasn't helpful to the Spartans' cause that they were also playing without two of their leading forwards in juniors Emma Tokarsky and Katie Stamp. Without the two front-court forces, Boardman was bombarded on the boards and in the paint by the lengthy Raider women.

"(Harding's) height was a lot to handle," said Coffin. "We kept it close for two and a half quarters before the very talented Raiders put it away."

Junior point guard Raegan Burkey paced the Spartans with six points. She was joined at that total by freshman Bella Martin. Junior Maria Torres and sophomore Emma Mills both finished with five points.

The previous Saturday the Spartans were also put away by out of conference visitor Mohawk. The 15-1 Lady Warriors lived up to their lofty billing as they rolled into town and tore up the local kids 58-23. That low scoring output once again put emphasis on what Coach Coffin has said about his group's inconsistency on offense. He feels they need to improve in a lot of other simpler situations too.

"We have to do the little things better," said the coach. "We have to finish at the rim, make our free throws, box out, make the simple pass and stop fouling so much. We practice hard every day for two hours a day and at least an hour of that time is dedicated to working on those skills."

Coffin's crew had a legitimate shot at capturing their initial AAC victory in their game at Austintown Fitch on January 15. They took an early 14-11 lead in this contest that turned out to be an uneven seesaw affair. Fitch fought back to take a narrow one-point lead at halftime. The visitors would climb back on top after a 13-11 third period. Then the Lady Falcons found more of an offensive rhythm over the final eight minutes as they came away with the 60-56 triumph. Fueling the Falcons was a 4 for 5 performance from beyond the three-point arc and an impressive 7 for 8 from the foul line. Burkey was balling for Boardman in Austintown scoring 21 points with twelve of those points coming from three-point land. She also nabbed eight steals, four assists and three rebounds.

"(Burkey) played a fantastic game," Coffin said.

Torres drilled three triples en route to a 12 point game. The junior completed a double-double when she yanked down 11 rebounds. Stamp was back and scored 10 points.

The Boardman outfit will get three consecutive chances at picking up conference win number one when it hosts Howland, Fitch and Canfield all in a row. We know that the Spartans will be seeking revenge against the Falcons. They'll also be trying to bounce back against the Lady Tigers who beat them 45-31 on Jan. 15 and the Lady Cardinals who clobbered the Spartans by 20 points in December. Getting back on track will become easier if they start hitting more of their shots.

"We are an above average defensive team, but simply stated, we must get better at putting the ball in the hoop," Coffin said.

One thing the Boardman bunch is very good at is earning awesome grades in the classroom. No matter how horrible things are going on the court, these Spartans are shining on their report cards. Half of the 25 players on the roster have earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average and, as a team, Boardman's collective GPA is 3.6.

"That's something I'm very proud of," said Coffin.



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