Boardman eases past South Range | News, Sports, Jobs

Boardman eases past South Range | News, Sports, Jobs

Correspondent photo / Lowell Spencer
Boardman’s Sam Duble (5) looks to pass the ball while South Range’s Sophia Lucente (23) defenders her.

BOARDMAN — The Boardman Spartans girls’ basketball team enjoyed a strong finish last year winning six of its last seven games. With a resounding 62-22 victory over the South Range Raiders in its season opener Wednesday night, it appears the Spartans are picking up right where they left off.

“Last year we started 1-3 to start the season. You start wondering if what we are doing is working. Then we really came on strong at the end of the year and won 15 games. I wanted it to be important that we build off that and start quickly this year,” Spartans head coach Jeff Hammerton said.

“We have had a couple of slow starts in past seasons, so coming out and getting this win tonight can carry us on for our next couple of games,” senior Mary Catherine Werth added.

With the loss, the Raiders dropped to 0-2 in the early season, having suffered a heartbreaking two-point loss last week.

“We only had one day in between games, so the adage of getting better from the first to the second game really isn’t true now. But we are off for 11 days before our next game, so I really think the advancement you will see from us is going to happen in the next week and a half,” Raiders head coach Jeff Fishel said.

“One thing I was worried about before the game was that South Range had already played a game,” Hammerton said. “A lot of teams have already played games, and this was our first game. You always worry about the first game nerves, no matter how long they have been playing.”

The Spartans had a balanced attack on the night, with four players in double figures in the scorebook. Werth took top-scoring honors for the Spartans with 12 points, while Mackenzie Riccitelli added 11. Sam Duble and Sarah Bero each tallied 10. Bero also controlled the boards with 10 rebounds.

“That’s how we are going to be good,” Hammerton said of the balance. “Riccitelli comes back as our leading scorer, but if she doesn’t have help around her, we aren’t going to win many games. So it was key to get everyone involved and let everyone know that if you are open, then shoot the ball.”

The Spartans came out of the gate with a press defense which helped create 12 first-quarter turnovers for the Raiders. They were able to convert many of those miscues into points and the Spartans built a commanding 23-7 first quarter advantage.

“When a team has a game under their belt versus a team that hasn’t played yet, you always worry about how you are going to start the game. What we decided as a coaching staff was to come out and press and kind of take that thinking out of it and do what we do naturally and see if we can create some opportunities. When Sam Duble hit the three to start the game in our first offensive possession, I felt like ‘OK, we are going to get going pretty quick,’” Hammerton said.

The Spartans continued to pull away in the second frame as they began the stanza with a 5-0 run and a 34-10 advantage by the 2:25 mark when Duble connected on a jumper. They would carry a 38-12 advantage into the intermission.

“We are known for our press and our high-pressure defense,” Werth said. “Mackenzie Riccitelli and Ava Freeborough do a great job of that because they are so fast and have quick hands. It really gets us going.”

The Spartans began the second half with a 10-1 run, holding a 48-13 lead midway through the third frame and starting the running clock rule. They would close the quarter with a comfortable 54-17 lead.

Both teams substituted heavily in the final quarter with the Spartans reaching a game-high 40-point advantage of 57-17 at the 7:05 mark of the stanza. They would go on to finish the game with that same margin of victory.

“There were times where we got into the right spots, but we just didn’t execute,” Fischel said. “We got in the right spots, so we can build off of that.”

The Raiders will have a week to regroup as they will play at Girard in a Northeast-8 opener on Monday, Dec. 11 in their next contest. Boardman hosts Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

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