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  Offense Anemic As Hoover Sweeps Boardman Out Of Tournament Play, 52-30  
  March 4, 2021 Edition  
     BY GREG GULAS
      Boardman News Sports
      bnews@zoominternet.net
      On a night when they needed to play a near flawless game offensively, the Boardman Spartans’ offense was all but silent as they were eliminated from post-season play by former Federal League foe North Canton Hoover, 52-30, last Saturday night at the Boardman Gymnasium.
      With that sectional final loss, the Spartans end their season 15-6 overall despite authoring a third straight All-American Conference Red Tier championship, which extended their league win streak to 28 games dating to the end of the 2017-18 campaign.
      Trey DePietro led the Spartans with 10 points, joining Ethan Andersen – he also had 10 points during their 35-32 loss to the Vikings back on January 5 – as the only two BHS players to hit double-digits against NCHHS in their two games played this season.
      The Spartans hit two triples – the first by Spencer Smith just 40 seconds into the game and the second by Andersen at 4:35 of the opening period – for the early 6-2 advantage, then went without a bucket until the third quarter, a stretch of 15:01 to fall behind 31-16, all but dooming the Spartans’ chances of advancing to district play.
      “That’s two games that we played against them this year and we averaged 31 points, scoring 32 the first time and 30 points tonight so that’s obviously something that they’re doing well,” Boardman head coach Pat Birch said after the game. “Their ‘bigs’ defend well inside, they don’t make mistakes, don’t play out of position and we knew coming in that we were going to have to play not perfect offensively, but going to have to take advantage of the opportunities when they were there.
      “I think you saw early in the game we had some pretty good chances that didn’t go and I felt that kind of set the tone for the night. We hit our first couple of shots but couldn’t capitalize the rest of the first half.
      “You look up and you weren’t doing things bad defensively. I felt like we were playing pretty good, we were speeding them up when we finally did score but we didn’t score consistently enough to keep our pressure on them and keep the game fast.”
      After taking the early lead, the Vikings’ (15-8) Eli Barker hit a shot to cut the deficit to 6-4 and when Cade Henne hit the first of his game-high four triples at the 3:17 mark, Hoover wrested a 7-6 lead and never trailed the remainder of the way.
      Henne scored eight of his game-high 20 points in the opening period, keying a 10-1 run to finish the quarter as the Vikings opened a 12-7 advantage heading to the second stanza.
      A triple by Lucas Tindell, six more points by Henne and a stingy defense that held Boardman scoreless from the field – they were seven of 10 from the charity stripe – helped the Vikings open a 25-14 lead at the intermission.
      In the third quarter, a bucket by Wes Collins, free throw by Eli Barker and triple by Tanner Ware extended the Hoover lead to 31-14 before DePietro broke the Spartans’ field goal drought with his hoop at 4:34, cutting the margin to 31-16.
      Barker’s five points in the period helped extend the Vikings’ lead to 39-19 with eight minutes remaining.
      Boardman’s D.J. Evans, DePietro and Luke Ryan added triples in the final period but it was too little, too late as Hoover, the No. 12 seed, advanced to the Division I, Northeast 2 district semi-finals where they were scheduled to meet No. 14 seed Green High School – the Bulldogs defeated No. 8 Hunting Valley University School, 49-48 on Saturday – on March 3.
      Barker added 15 points to join Henne as the two Vikings to finish in double figures as Hoover won their seventh consecutive game, winning for the 10th time in their past 11 outings.
      For the Spartans, Andersen finished with seven points, Ryan added six markers, Evans four and Smith a triple which came at the outset of the game.
      Birch took a moment to laud the leadership of his senior class, which has produced a 57-12 (.826 winning percentage) overall mark in 69 games played the past three seasons while producing three AAC Red Tier titles.
      “I told them after the game that this doesn’t define who they are. They had a successful year,” Birch added. “One of the things that really sticks out when you talk to other coaches is how hard this season has been for everyone. I feel like everyone feels it’s just a success to get through the season.
      “Despite the uncertainty, this group has been great. They’ve never been down, they’ve showed leadership, showed a lot of unselfishness and are just good guys that probably sacrificed their role.
      “That isn’t easy for a kid to understand but they took it in stride, were very good leaders and I really, really appreciated that. Big E [Ethan Andersen] is going to be really hard to replace as he’s been the centerpiece for us the past three seasons.
      “He’s never lost a league game, been the anchor and you just don’t replace a player like that so I’m going to miss him and our other seniors, but that’s high school sports.”
     
 
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