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Spartans corral Cowboys in tournament type surroundings

February 19, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Two of the very best boys basketball teams in town met in Boardman on Valentine's Day evening.

Back in the eighties two of the fiercest crosstown rivals were Boardman and Chaney. Four decades later, the Spartans are one of the top teams in Division I and the Cowboys are the number one seed in their bracket of the Division II state tournament. It was expected that the showdown between the two schools last Friday would be a preview of the upcoming playoffs. The Spartans and Cowboys didn't disappoint anyone in attendance. A huge second quarter by Boardman was the boost it needed to seize control of this otherwise seesaw encounter. The Spartans subdued their visitors from the city 66-60 to win their ninth straight game. They are also now 19-1 overall with two remaining chances at capturing a twenty win season.

"We hosted a very talented Chaney team," said Boardman head coach Pat Birch after the victory. "It was a back and forth game with a tournament-like atmosphere. We earned a hard-fought victory."

The Cowboys climbed on top of their hosts 17-13 after one quarter. They would also take the third period 16-14. That's why the super second stanza was so necessary for the Spartans. Senior sharpshooter Tommy Fryda fired four 3-pointers in the second quarter to help turn that four-point deficit into a 35-29 Boardman halftime lead. On Fryda's third triple he set the school's single season record for most treys in one campaign.

"(Fryda) is playing with a lot of confidence and rightfully so," said Birch. "He's a good player."

Despite the senior's heroics, the Chaney players were still able to overcome and regain the lead. A 12-4 run after intermission pushed the Cowboys back in front by 6-points. The Spartans started to sizzle again late in the third period thanks to leading scorer Derrick Anderson. Over the first 20 minutes of the game the senior point guard was kept mainly in check by the Cowboys' defense. He went crazy after Chaney took the advantage by scoring 10 of his game-high 21 points to put the Spartans back in the lead.

"(Anderson) put us on his back for a while," Birch said.

The contest would continue to flipflop with Chaney taking its last lead 60-58 with about a minute left. A field goal by 6-foot-5 sophomore Trey DePietro and a couple of free throws by senior Daeone Martin gave the lead back to Boardman for good. DePietro put in seven points and had four rebounds leaving a lasting impression on his coach.

"(DePietro) played some huge minutes," Birch said.

Fryda's enormous shooting night left him with 18 points. Junior Ethan Andersen battled foul trouble all evening but still managed nine points and five blocked shots. Martin ended with six points and four boards.

Boardman's eighth consecutive win came three nights earlier when it laid the smack down on visiting Louisville 59-35. The Spartans didn't need to have a humongous second quarter like they did against Chaney because they went on a 17-3 run to start the game. They would score 13 of the second period's 19 points to lead 30-9 at halftime. It was pretty much smooth sailing from there for the Spartans. The win was made easy because of Boardman's terrific job on defense.

"We were able to contain a good shooting Louisville team," explained Birch.

Anderson led the way again with 20 points and four rebounds. Fryda continued to shoot well from long distance hitting four more triples. Andersen had 8 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Martin equaled his teammate with eight points. DePietro did well again with six points, three rebounds and a couple blocks. A pair of other Spartans shined too according to the coach as they combined for eleven rebounds.

"Zach Ryan and Connor Miller provided the defensive toughness all night," said Birch.

Birch's bunch went for win number 20 against Ursuline this past Tuesday night. One final regular season contest at home against Fitch is also slated for Friday evening. Boardman already beat up the Falcons 68-44 back on Jan. 14 en route to winning the All American Conference's Red Tier title. After a first round bye, the third seeded Spartans will host the winner of Wooster and Alliance in the Canton District's sectional final. The number two seed in Canton is hometown hero McKinley. The Bulldogs are in Boardman's bracket and is the presumptive opponent for the Spartans in the district semifinal. All eyes in Spartan Nation, however, will no doubt be looking ahead to a grudge match with number 1 seed Green in the finals. These Bulldogs are the only brood that has beaten Boardman this season. That win came over the Martin Luther King Day weekend in a tournament at North Canton Hoover High School. If last weekend's clash between Boardman and Chaney was outstanding, a potential rematch between the Spartans and Bulldogs should be something extra special.



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