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  Canton McKinley Claims 59-47 District Semifinal Win:   March 12, 2020 Edition  
      Boardman News Sports
      A year ago, the Boardman Spartans posted a 20-4 overall mark and walked off with the All-American Conference Red Tier crown, going a perfect 10-0 in league play.
      With eight seniors returning this season, it prompted head coach Pat Birch to wonder, albeit to only himself, could the Spartans duplicate the success that they enjoyed in 2018-19.
      After going 22-2 and winning a second straight AAC Red Tier title – Boardman went 8-0 and have now won 18 straight league games – Birch finds himself once again wondering can his team, in fact, reach down and squeeze yet another 20-win season next year out of a squad that will once again feature some seasoned veterans.
      The Spartans’ season came to an end last Thursday when Canton McKinley stopped BHS in the district semifinals, 59-47 at the Canton Civic Center.
      It marked the second straight season – they lost to the Green Bulldogs last year, 61-47 – that the Spartans lost in the district semifinals, ending a two-year run that has produced a 42-6 overall mark.
      With a solid nucleus returning, Birch is cautiously optimistic that next season’s squad can pick right up where this year’s team left off.
      “This has been a very special two-year run for us,’ Birch said less than 24 hours after the Spartans’ season ended. “It started last year with Che Trevena and Cam Kreps setting the tone and helping to lay the foundation. We worked hard in the off-season to duplicate that success, now we must work just as hard this off-season if we expect to do it once again next year.”
      Riding a 12-game winning streak heading into their game with Canton McKinley, the Bulldogs opened a 15-10 lead after the first eight minutes and held on to a slim, 22-19 lead at the intermission.
      The Spartans took a five-point lead in the third period, but McKinley rallied for a 34-31 lead with one stanza remaining.
      The Bulldogs (20-4) outscored the Spartans, 25-16, in the final frame for a 12-point victory, their fifth in a row and a trip to the district championship game against Green High School, the only two teams that were able to solve the Spartans’ puzzle this season.
      Derrick Anderson led BHS with 16 points (he grabbed eight rebounds) while Ethan Andersen added 15 markers and a team-high nine caroms to pace the Spartans.
      Anderson finished his scholastic career with 1,064 points – he is one of just six boys players to reach the 1,000 point plateau for their careers – which is good enough for third-place all-time, right behind leader Greg Dunn (1968-71), who scored 1,385 points and Jim Goske (1988-71), who hooped 1,071 points and stands second all-time.
      “We’ve had the best two-year run in four decades and that’s very special,” Birch added. “This team was special and our senior group has meant the world to me. It starts with them as kids and includes more than just basketball. It’s about school, football, baseball and life. It was also very special because everyone knew their roles.”
      Derrick Anderson was the top scorer on the team, averaging 22.7 points per game with Ethan Anderson (10.9 points) and Tommy Fryda 10.5 points the other two players to finish in double figures on the campaign.
      Ethan Andersen led the team in rebounds, hauling in 7.9 per fray, Derick Anderson added 4.8 rebounds per contest while Fryda set the single season record for triples with 61 – he was 61 of 130 (46.9 percent) – ending his career with 84 ‘treys’ overall.
      “Derrick Anderson is a special player who is as humble and likeable as he is talented,” Birch stated. “Tommy Fryda is a hard-working, tough kid who is a great competitor and electric shooter.”
      Sophomore Trey DePietro (3.2 points, 3.4 rebounds) will join Ethan Andersen next season, giving the Spartans what Birch hopes will be a dominant inside presence.
      “We will build next year’s team around our twin towers, Ethan Andersen and Trey DePietro,” Birch noted. “They are versatile players who have good skill sets and I think both will flourish next year.”
      The other seven departing seniors include Daeone Martin (7.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Charlie Davis (2.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg), Zach Ryan (2.0 ppg., 3.0 rpg), Connor Miller (1.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Andrew Clark (1.1 ppg, 0.7 rpg), Jim Goske (0.3 ppg, 0.2 rpg) and Joey Zahran (0.9 ppg, 0.6 rpg).
      “Daeone was our quiet contributor, a workman-like player who showed up every day with the same approach and produced some really big moments,” Birch said. “Charlie is one of our unsung heroes who plays the right way every time he steps on the floor while Connor is a tough as nails competitor, one of our glue guys who did all the little things needed to win.
      “Zach is smart, tough, selfless and instinctual, the motor that made us go while Andrew was a very hard worker and a great leader for our team every day in practice. Jimmy Goske was the heartbeat of our team, a player who brought contagious energy every single day. Joey Zahran was a great teammate and a person who added so much value to our team each time we hit the floor, either in practice or for a game.”
      Also heading to their senior year next season will be Spencer Smith, Marco Stilliana and Ty Ventresco.
      “Spencer, Marco and Ty are great kids who will also be fighting for a starting position,” Birch added. “They’ll also look to contribute while our junior class, which consists of Luke Ryan, D.J. Evans, Ben Alvarico, Seth Cervello and Carter Mraz, to name a few, is talented and will also see several guys fight to start and contribute.
      “Sophomore Brady DePietro is very talented and will be in the mix as well. know many people think it will be a rebuilding year but I think we will reload more than rebuild.”
      Ryan and Evans are the two players from that group who saw varsity action this season.
      The Boardman High School basketball team has not reached a district final game since the 1985-86 season.
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