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Spartans stay red hot as they win sectional championship
March 4, 2020

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One of the hottest and best boys high school basketball teams in the area all season has been the one from Boardman.

Now, those Boardman boys can call themselves sectional champions. After receiving a first round bye, the third seeded Spartans hosted sixth seed Wooster last Friday night in their bracket of the Canton District. Senior point guard Derrick Anderson shook off a shaky beginning to finish the night with a game-high 23 points to lead the Spartans to a 58-51 sectional title victory. It was Boardman's 12th consecutive triumph and improved its overall mark to an incredible 22-1. With the win last weekend, the Spartans also clinched a perfect record on their home court this year. They'll now move into the district round of the tournament and take on a very talented Canton McKinley outfit. This district semifinal showdown will take place Thursday night at the Canton Civic Center.

"It was a great basketball game between two 20 win teams," said Boardman head coach Pat Birch about the sectional final. "Thanks go out to the Boardman students and community for creating a special atmosphere inside Spartan gymnasium."

Despite not getting much from their leading scorer, the Spartans were able to still steal a 15-6 lead over Wooster in the opening period. The Generals gained some momentum in the second stanza and outscored the Spartans 16-14. That would cut the local clan's lead down to seven points at halftime. Senior scorer Daeone Martin made seven points in the third period helping Boardman keep pace with Wooster. Those were important points because Boardman needed to keep the Generals from outscoring them after that quick first period.

"(Martin) came up big for us," said Birch. "He scored those seven points and grabbed several rebounds in a very strong effort."

The fourth quarter belonged to Anderson and the Spartans. When Wooster was trying to cut further into Boardman's lead, the defending All American Conference Player of the Year nailed a three-pointer to keep his team in front. He also made 11 of 12 free throws with many of those coming in the final moments. Anderson ended the night with 23 points and kudos from his coach.

"He came back after a slow start," bragged Birch about his star guard. "He hit that dagger three ball late in the fourth and was 7 of 8 from the free throw line in the fourth (quarter) to help secure the victory."

Martin was next up with 11 points total. Junior Ethan Andersen had seven points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. He rendered the Generals basically useless in the paint.

"(Andersen) was a force inside," Birch said. "He blocked four shots and challenged so many other shots."

Senior Tommy Fryda also scored seven points for the Spartans. Senior Zach Ryan scored all six of his points in the first frame. Sophomore Trey DePietro had four points and multiple rebounds while senior Connor Miller also contributed by setting screens, gaining possession of 50/50 balls and securing rebounds.

"DePietro played a very significant role and Miller came up huge throughout the game," said Birch.

The final four of the Canton District is filled with chalk as all of the top four seeds have advanced. Top-ranked Green will meet number four Canton GlenOak in the other bracket, while the Spartans and Bulldogs battle out in the other contest. McKinley is 19-4 after ousting archrival Massillon Washington 55-50 in its sectional final. On Feb. 15, McKinley played the same Wooster squad that the Spartans just eliminated and beat it by the identical 58-51 score. The Spartans and Bulldogs also both played GlenOak and Green this year. Boardman beat the other Canton kids while McKinley split with them. McKinley also split with number one seed Green, who is the only team to upend Boardman this season. Birch acknowledged that his boys will need to travel a bumpy road if they are to win the district crown.

"Our district is loaded," Birch said. "We knew that going in."

The victors of these two semifinal matches will meet this Saturday night in Canton with the district trophy hanging in the balance.

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