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Rebuilding season ends quickly for Lady Spartans

February 26, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Not much was expected from the rebuilding Boardman girls basketball team this season, so unfortunately it wasn't much of a shock when the Lady Spartans were shot down by Cuyahoga Falls 46-33 in the opening round of the Division I Ravenna District state tournament. While the Lady Black Tigers received the chance to advance and meet Boardman's local rival Canfield in the sectional finals, the Spartans will have some extra time to reflect on their 5-18 season. If that mark doesn't seem very impressive, you weren't watching how much these young ladies improved from early November.

"We were playing our best basketball in the final month of the season," said Boardman head coach Justin Coffin. "We avenged an earlier loss to Fitch, we swept Cardinal Mooney, we had the lead versus Canfield very late in the fourth (quarter) after getting blown out earlier in the year and we took a very good Salem team to overtime (before losing 60-56 on Feb. 13)."

The reason why the Spartans were able to show up over the final weeks of the schedule was the hard work they put in during practice throughout the year. That fortitude paid off as the season dragged on and presented a ton of challenges.

"We struggled early on, but we learned to compete, and we won some nice games," said Coffin. "We played a difficult schedule and we lost our leading scorer and rebounder Katie Stamp after only nine games. That adversity allowed others to step in and step up. I think the next step is learning how to finish games."

Boardman's girls did finish off Mooney for the second time this year on Feb. 11. Leading the way for the Spartans in that 47-39 triumph was junior point guard Raegan Burkey who had an awesome night with 20 points, including 14 for 14 from the foul line, four steals, three rebounds and two assists. She will be one of the Spartans that will be ready to lead the team as a senior in 2020/2021. That'll be easy for her too since she already leads in the classroom with a 4.0 grade point average.

"(Burkey) is an amazing athlete and better person," said Coffin. "She in on pace to be a 1000 point scorer next season."

Fellow junior Maria Torres is another stalwart behind the desk and was already a team leader this year due to her encouraging return from a season ending injury last winter. Torres tore up the Lady Cardinals for 6 huge second half points and played incredible defense with six rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots.

"(Torres) didn't even practice until the day before the season started," said Coffin. "She was able to play in all 23 games. By the end of the year she was averaging a double-double and made huge strides as a defender. She is also a great kid and great student."

Junior Emma Tokarsky helped take care of the Cardinals with 4 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. She is also a large asset to Boardman's cause off of the playing floor.

"(Tokarsky) has become our team's vocal leader and made great strides this season," Coffin said. "She's also another 4.0 student."

There were a handful of other Spartans that secured their spots in Coffin's rotation this season. He hopes they all come back next November ready to join the above mentioned players on a much improved Spartan squad.

"Juniors Serene Khatib and Bailey Moore played a lot of important minutes for us this year," Coffin said. "Sophomore Emma Mills started many games down the stretch after playing the first half of the year primarily at the jayvee level. We asked a lot of freshmen Gia Triveri and Bella Martin at the varsity level and they both showed flashes of excellence."

If you noticed the theme among all of those names, it's that none of them are seniors. In fact, the one enormous advantage the Spartans will have over their sisters in the AAC next year is that they'll lose nobody to graduation.

"The tough schedule, the youth and experience will all make us better going forward," said Coffin. "The number one key to our success next year is for our players to put the work in. Teams are made in season, but players are made in the summer months."

The first time head coach also hopes to be part of that maturation. Coffin learned a lot in his rookie campaign as bench boss but is not nave enough to realize he can't improve as well.

"We will continue to work hard and make ourselves the best coaches we can be," he said.



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