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  Lady Spartans Best Rival Cardinal Mooney  
  Mackenzie Riccitelli Meshes 15 Points:   December 2, 2021 Edition  
     BY GREG GULAS
      Boardman News Sports
      bnews@zoominternet.net
      After quarantining for 10 days due to COVID-19, Boardman High’s second-year girls’ head basketball coach, Brett Green, returned to the sidelines last Saturday in time to coach their game at Cardinal Mooney.
      His team presented him with the result he was looking for, a 47-43, road victory over their arch-rivals for their first win of the season.
      Mackenzie Riccitelli hooped a game-high 15 points and Cami Goske added 11 markers, the two combining to score 26 of Boardman’s (1-1) 47 overall points. Their offense offset 29 turnovers committed as a team and a total of 45 in the game when the Cardinals’ 16 miscues are added to the total.
      “The game plan was to play as a team and watch our turnovers,” Riccitelli said. “It’s a great feeling to win, especially to overcome the adversity we’ve faced the past couple weeks. We’ll address the turnovers in practice and move forward.
      “Last year, we lost to them at home so this was a nice win for us.”
      A triple by CMHS guard Angelina Rotunno and two free throws by Alaina Scavina staked the Cardinals (1-1) to a 5-2 lead at 5:21 of the opening period.
      A bucket and free throw by Emma Mills, and a hoop by Goske keyed a 5-0 run for Boardman as the Spartans reclaimed the lead – there were 11 lead changes and seven ties in the contest – 7-2 with 2:10 remaining in the opening session.
      Two buckets by Rotunno gave the Cardinals a 9-7 advantage with 59 seconds left in the quarter but a triple by Riccitelli with 16 seconds remaining helped BHS forge a 10-9 advantage heading to the second stanza.
      Two free throws by Ava Freeborough at the 2:00 mark of the second quarter gave the Spartans a 15-14 lead but free throws by Scavina and Olivia Rouser, and a bucket by Sophia Diorio keyed a 4-0 run to end the period and give the Cardinals an 18-15 lead heading to the locker rooms.
      Five points by Goske and four points each from Bella Martin and Reagan Smith after intermission helped cut the Spartans’ deficit to 32-30 with eight minutes remaining.
      “I like scoring and rebounding, both are equally important but tonight our defense helped create our offense,” Goske added.
      Goske made the second of her two free throws just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter to help Boardman pull to within a point, 32-31 and when Mills connected from beyond the arc 46 seconds later, the Spartans opened a 34-32 advantage.
      It was a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
      A bucket and three-point play by Riccitelli offset a hoop by Rouser as BHS extended their lead to 39-34, making it a 44-38 contest on a hoop and free throw by Goske, and a bucket by Riccitelli that keyed a 5-0 run as Boardman extended their lead to six points.
      A triple by Rotunno then cut the CMHS deficit to 44-41 with 1:10 remaining but it was too little, too late as the Spartans closed on a 3-2 run to secure their first win of the season.
      “It was tough being away for 10 days and definitely great to be back on the bench,” Green stated. “This was a big win for us, an emotional win. The key was keeping our composure, working hard on our offensive sets and playing physical.
      “We’ll take Sunday off then be back at it on Monday. We made just 10 of 24 free throw attempts so we’ll work on that and keep our focus. It’s one day at a time, one possession at a time.”
      Rotunno had 15 points for the Cardinals, the only CMHS player to finish in double-digits offensively as she tied Riccitelli for game-high laurels.
      Like the Spartans, the Cardinals also had trouble at the charity stripe as they connected on just 7 of 17 attempts, the two teams combining to make just 17 of their 41 opportunities for a 41.5 conversion percentage.
      “Missing free throws are costly but that wasn’t the only thing that hurt us today,” first-year Cardinals head coach Dom Diorio noted. “We got a little lazy on defense and must execute better when we have the ball. Also, we need to take care of the ball and get better shots. We cannot settle for the first shot because that isn’t always the best option.
      “Angelina brings a lot of energy when she is in the game and she did that today, we just have to keep her out of foul trouble.”
      The Spartans return to action December 1 when they play host to the Louisville Leopards (7 p.m.) at the Spartans Gymnasium.
      Then Cardinals travel to Canton Central Catholic, also on December 1 for a 7 p.m. contest with the Crusaders, closing out the week on Saturday when they host South Range.
      Tip-off with the Raiders is set for 2:30 p.m.
      Junior Varsity
      Boardman High School’s junior varsity team moved to 2-0 on the season, topping Cardinal Mooney, 34-12.
      The junior Lady Spartans canned 12 of 12 from the free throw line in the game.
      Sarah Bero paced the winners with 8 points, while Ally Fleming, Alex Ward and Natalie Davis added 6 points each.
      Delaney Olexa led Mooney with 5 points.
 
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