Published: Saturday, January 5, 2008
Boardman stops Fitch for first Federal victory
By RYAN JONES
AUSTINTOWN A 51-44 triumph over Austintown Fitch Friday not only gave the Boardman High basketball team bragging rights against their traditional rival, but also marked the Spartans' first Federal League victory.
Boardman coach Jim Goske said he hopes his team can turn that positive outcome into a string of successes.
"We're 5-5, but haven't won two games in a row this season," Goske said. "I hope we can add to the list of positive things we did tonight."
The Spartans (5-5, 1-3) took a 30-19 lead into intermission and appeared to bury the Falcons when they went on a 9-0 run in the first three minutes of the third period.
However, Fitch answered with an 11-0 during the final five minutes of the frame to cut the lead to 39-30.
Junior John Williams spearheaded the run by hitting two treys. Williams also connected on a three pointer from the right corner on Fitch's first possession of the fourth quarter-reducing the lead to six, 39-33.
Goske said a combination of things led to the deterioration of his team's 20-point lead.
"We weren't getting the shots that we wanted," Goske said. "We took some quick shots and some bad shots, and our good attempts weren't falling.
"When we have the lead we need to get better at knowing what a good shot is," Goske said. "Give Fitch credit though; they made us play their style of ball and dictated some of the shots we took. "
The Falcons clawed to within five points (44-39) when DeAndre Richardson converted a lay-up from the left block following a steal and assist by Eric Braxton.
Fitch came no closer as the Spartans hit 7-of-13 foul shots in the final two minutes to seal the game.
"We've got to get better at the line because six misses in the fourth quarter isn't always going to get it done," Goske said. "We've practiced free throws every way imaginable and we've worked on being mentally strong. Right now it's a confidence thing."
Fitch coach Roger Day said he thought his team played well for three quarters.
"The first four minutes of the game, they [Boardman] went on an 11-2 run, the first three minutes of the third quarter they went on a 9-0 run," Day said. "I thought the rest of the game we played fine, but you've got to play the whole game and we didn't do that."
The Spartans drained four three pointers and raced to an 18-10 lead in the opening quarter.
Goske said the coaching staff stressed the importance of not falling behind early.
"I don't think we've won a first quarter all season," he said. "Our shooting has been inconsistent most of the season, but we hit a few shots right away and I think that boosted our confidence."
Boardman put three players in double digits. Nick Asimakopoulos led the way with 12, while Devron Martin and Ryan Pesta each tallied 10 points.
Jon Ballard led Fitch with 15 points and Williams added 14, including four from downtown.
"The true character of our team showed tonight," Day said. "We could have packed it in, but we found our way back into the game. Boardman's a much better team than the 5-5 record they have."