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  With Wins Over Canfield And Warren Harding, Spartans Clinch Second Straight AAC Crown  
  February 13, 2020 Edition  
     BY GREG GULAS
      Boardman News Sports
      bnews@zoominternet.net
      On a night when most games were cancelled due to school closings earlier in the day, the Boardman Spartans boys’ basketball team gave Chad Krispinsky’s MyYTV “Game of the Week” audience a glimpse of what area fans can expect from them come tournament time.
      The Spartans (17-1, 7-0: AAC Red Tier) reeled off the first nine points of the game and led from opening tip to final buzzer as they defeated Warren G. Harding High, 59-35 to claim their second consecutive All-American Conference Red Tier outright championship.
      Ethan Andersen had a game-high 16 points, Derrick Anderson added 15 markers despite sitting out most of the second period due to foul trouble, while Daeone Martin canned 10 points off the bench to pace the Spartans, who won their seventh consecutive outing and improved to 37-5 over their last 42 contests.
      It was a game that featured seven blocks by BHS – six from the 6’6” Andersen – with the Boardman defense, which is holding opponents to a just 45.8 points per fray, holding the Raiders (12-7, 5-2) to just 18 second half points (six in the third period) and the second least of any opponent this season.
      They had previously defeated conference foe Howland, 64-31 back on January 28.
      “Coming in we just wanted to win. We were looking at the AAC championship and wanted to finish that out and protect our title from last year,” Ethan Andersen said. “It also means a lot to get the series sweep because it really highlights the work we’ve put in this season. We come out, we grind, we try to get better every day and it has paid off.”
      Andersen said the game plan that head coach Pat Birch and his staff put together was executed perfectly.
      “I think the key tonight, just like every other game, was to come out and work hard,” he added. “Whether that’s offensively or defensively holding them to points, it starts with working hard, wanting to play defense and putting it all out there on the court.”
      Defensively, the Spartans could not have scripted a better start to Friday’s game as they raced to a 9-0 advantage, held the Raiders scoreless for the first 2:57 of the game, limited their AAC foes to just eight points in the opening frame and opened a 19-8 advantage after the first eight minutes of play.
      The start was the complete opposite from their January 21 encounter at the Spartans’ Gymnasium when the Raiders opened with the early 7-1 lead, then led 11-5 before BHS went on a 26-7 run to manufacture a 31-18 halftime margin.
      With Derrick Anderson picking up his second foul early in the second quarter, Daeone Martin picked up the slack by scoring eight of his 10 points in the period to help the Spartans forge a 30-17 lead at the intermission.
      Ethan Andersen called attention to the team effort once Derrick Anderson went to the bench.
      “With Derrick, he’s a great player but we have ten guys behind him at all times ready to work hard and pick up the slack. You saw that tonight,” he started.
      Anderson entered the game with 908 career points and with 15 markers against the Raiders, now has 923 for his stellar career.
      He needs 77 points to become just the sixth boy’s player and 17th Spartans’ hoopster – there are 11 girl’s players – overall to score 1,000 points during their BHS hardwood careers.
      His early foul trouble didn’t seem to bother the well-oiled Boardman basketball machine.
      “We’re a team and a group, not individuals,” Derrick Anderson noted. “I got in foul trouble but everyone just stepped up. It’s very special to get a season sweep of a good Warren Harding team. We work hard in practice, watch film everyday so it’s nice to get the win that gives us the conference championship once again.”
      Back-to-back buckets by Ethan Andersen, the last at 3:06 of the third stanza, gave Boardman a 41-21 lead as they outscored WGH in the quarter, 17-6 for a 47-23 lead with one period of action remaining.
      Ethan Andersen and Derrick Anderson then combined for eight of the Spartans’ final 12 points with the BHS defense putting a muzzle on the Raiders’ scoring attack as only four players – Aston Bates with 12 points, Munch Owens and Dom Foster with nine points each and Kamare Evans with five points – found their way into the scoring column.
      “Our No. 1 goal coming into the year was to be able to repeat as league champions,” Birch said. “It’s never easy as we went from being the hunter last year to the hunted this year and I think we really responded to that. Everyone has given us their best shot and we’ve been able to step up and answer the challenge.”
      Birch was more than satisfied with how his team adjusted once Derrick Anderson went to the bench with foul difficulty.
      “You never want to see your leading scorer go down early like that,” Birch added. “Daewon Martin really stepped up and had a huge first half and that’s kind of been the essence of the team this year. Someone needs picked up, our next guy is right there ready to do it and I think that speaks volumes about these seniors. These guys are ready to step up for each other.”
      He also said Ethan Andersen’s presence inside has been a big factor in their success this season.
      “Ethan was a huge presence inside tonight and he has been for us all season,” Birch stated. “Most of our defense is focused around him being down there. Our guards create a lot of havoc and then there’s ‘Big E’ behind them ready to clean everything up. He had a ton of blocks and rebounds for us tonight and we cannot be who we are defensively without him.”
      Boardman dished out 11 assists on their 25 hoops, added four steals but committed 14 turnovers, nine of which came in the opening half of play.
      The Raiders also committed 14 miscues, adding six steals and three assists.
      Boardman 75 - Canfield 54
      In another game last week, Boardman went on the road and earned an AAC victory over Canfield, 75-54.
      Derrick Anderson cracked the 20 mark for the sixth game in a row, with a game high 21 markers to go with 5 assists. Tommy Fryda connected on 5/7 from downtown for a season-high 19 points, and also snagged 3 steals, 3 rebounds and dished out 3 assists. Ethan Andersen had a strong night inside with 17 points including a big dunk is transition. Andersen also grabbed 8 rebounds
      Rounding out the scoring for the Spartans were Daeone Martin had a strong game with 5 points and 6 rebounds. Connor Miller was very solid on both ends, scoring 4 points while also taking 2 timely charges. Trey DePietro played really good minutes, scoring 4 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. Charlie Davis was very steady for the Spartans, hitting a dagger 3-ball in the fourth quarter. Zach Ryan was strong on both ends, scoring 2 points and grabbing 3 rebounds.
      Trey Dye paced Canfield with a baker’s dozen points, while Jake Kowal and Joe Bruno added 8 points each and Brayden Beck chipped-in with 7 points.
 
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