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Boardman notches first AAC win before losing two in a row

February 11, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

On Feb. 1, the Boardman girls basketball team earned possibly its biggest win of this season.

Boardman's young ladies laid out rival Austintown Fitch 50-46 to pick up their first win of the year inside the All American Conference. It also gave the Lady Spartans a sense of revenge since they were beaten by Fitch in Austintown back in early January.

"It was a big win because it was our first league win and it was against our league rival," said an elated Boardman head coach Justin Coffin.

Coffin's crew seemed determined to pick up that initial AAC victory from the tipoff. A 13-2 run by Boardman to begin the game put the visitors in a huge hole. Although the Lady Falcons fought back to take the second quarter 7-5, Boardman still led by nine at intermission. The Spartans would need that capital because they were outscored over the final 16 minutes. Fitch even tied the game late in the second half before succumbing to the Spartans. Their quick run out of the gates provided a dramatic change from how the Spartans have been stalling early in recent outings.

"We started the game off hot, so we didn't have to fight to get back in it," Coffin explained. "Our girls played great defense and hit timely shots for the win (after Fitch tied the game)."

Junior forward Maria Torres tore up the Falcons for 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds. It was her huge 3-pointer that broke on of the ties in the third quarter. Junior power forward Emma Tokarsky tallied nine points to go along with six boards. Freshman sensation Gia Triveri had another large all-around performance with 8 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Sophomore Emma Mills made good for 6 points. Juniors Bailey Moore and Christine Zheng also got into the scorebook for the Spartans. There were also a few other Boardman players that the coach cited for their efforts.

"Dana Haus, Jenna Olexa, Natalie Davis and Jalaya Bailey all played valuable minutes," said Coffin.

The celebration from that first conference victory was quickly quelled over the next seven days. Back-to-back losses to Red Tier rivals Canfield and Warren Harding crushed the momentum from that monumental win over Fitch. The Lady Cardinals went into Boardman, and despite trailing most of the game, came away with a 38-31 win. Up 30-25 with just a couple minutes left in the contest, the Spartans were stunned by three consecutive 3-pointers by the suddenly hot shooting Cardinals. Canfield ended up outscoring Boardman 14-6 in the final frame to sweep the season series. Torres was on top of the scoring list for the Spartans again with 13 points and eight boards. Junior point guard Reagan Burkey and Tokarsky both scored four.

"It was a hard-fought and tightly contested defensive battle," Coffin said. "I give (Canfield) credit. They hit huge shots when it mattered most. I told the girls the difference between us and Canfield right now is that they have learned to win these games."

Harding has also learned how to win. So much so that it is 18-2, unbeaten in the AAC and the top seed in the Division I Ravenna District tournament. The Raiders rammed the Spartans in Boardman 68-34 last Saturday afternoon. That marked the second time this season they have demolished the local kids by 34 points. Burkey scored nine points to lead Boardman. Torres had 8 points and four rebounds. Mills scored 6 points while Tokarsky and Triveri each tallied five.

That game against Harding started a stretch of three final regular season games against teams with at least 10 wins. Coffin's clan will also meet Cardinal Mooney and Salem before starting the postseason on Feb. 15 in Cuyahoga Falls. The rookie coach believes his team's tough slate has them in primed position to play above their 4-16 record in the playoffs.

"The game versus Warren Harding, a top 10 team in the state, and playing other number one seeds like Liberty, West Branch and Mohawk has us tournament prepped," said Coffin. "We took some bad losses in the beginning of the season, but now we are in every game."

The Lady Black Tigers are 13-8 overall this year earning them the first round home game and number 5 seed. In the college basketball tournament, there always seems to be a 12 seed (like Boardman) upsetting everyone's bracket by beating a five. Perhaps in this Ravenna District, that team will be Boardman. If the Spartans do spring the surprise, then they may get a third shot at knocking off nemesis Canfield in the sectional finals. Coffin is confident that could happen despite his group's low position in the rankings.

"The best thing about the tournament is everyone is 0-0," he said. "We are focused on Cuyahoga Falls, but we know the opportunity to win that game gives us another shot at Canfield."



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