PREP BASKETBALL Ursuline hangs tough, but Boardman pulls away
Jen Hlebovy and Lauren Craig helped the Spartans toa 62-48 victory.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
BOARDMAN -- The Ursuline-Boardman high school girls basketball game lived up to the pre-game hype for the better part of three quarters before the Spartans pulled away to a 62-48 victory before a large crowd at Boardman High.
"It's become a great rivalry," Boardman coach Ron Moschella said. "And you have three great Division I basketball players in [YSU recruit Ashlee] Russo, [Boardman's Amber] Bland and [Ursuline's] Courtney Davidson on the court at the same time."
The three standouts gave fans their money's worth, especially in the first half, with great athletic plays and strong efforts on both ends of the court.
However, basketball is a team game and it was the role players -- especially for Boardman -- that made the difference in the second half.
Getting help: Defensively, Brittany Durkin did a nice job of wearing down Davidson as the Spartans employed a box-and-one on the Ursuline guard the entire night.
Davidson scored only two of her 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Offensively, Jen Hlebovy scored seven of her 13 points in the third quarter and reserve Lauren Craig came off the bench to score all seven of her points in the final period to help the Spartans (7-1, 3-0 Steel Valley Conference) pull away from the Irish.
After Ursuline (4-2, 1-1) rallied in the third quarter to pull to within 38-37 with 3 minutes, 17 seconds remaining, Hlebovy fueled a 7-2 run with three strong plays underneath the Spartan basket.
Boardman led 47-41 entering the final period.
Putting it away: Craig then scored two baskets to start the final period and Bland sealed the Irish defeat with a steal and a full court layup, which gave Boardman a 53-43 lead.
"Amber's steal sealed the game," Moschella said. "I think it took the gas out of [Ursuline]."
Boardman put the game away in the final minutes at the foul line.
"I thought the supporting casts on both teams did a great job tonight," Moschella said. "Christina Cook had a great game for them and so did [Sarah] McKelvey. I think when she went out in the fourth quarter with an injury, it hurt them."
McKelvey, who did a great job of trying to stop Bland, injured an ankle early in the fourth quarter as the Spartans began to pull away.
Early on, it looked like it might be the Bland and Russo show for Boardman as the duo helped Boardman race out to a 10-2 lead.
Ursuline coach Sean Durkin called a timeout and made a few adjustments that worked well and the Irish, behind Davidson's eight first-quarter points, closed strong to trail just 18-16 heading into the second period.
"I thought that was a great timeout early in the game by Sean," Moschella said. "Whatever he did, he settled his team down and they made a great run at us."
Battling: The two teams played spectacular basketball in the second quarter and the score went back and forth until Boardman scored late in the period on a Hlebovy basket to take a 31-27 halftime lead.
"I thought we played great in the first half," Durkin said. "I thought we continued to play great on defense in the second half, but we hit a drought offensively in the second half and couldn't recover."
Ursuline scored only five points in the fourth period until Ashley Parry hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final points.
"I'm proud of our team," Durkin said. "We knew that Boardman has a great team and that we would have to play very well to beat them tonight.
"This was a great challenge for us. This is the best Boardman team I've seen," Durkin added. "We like where we are. To come in here and compete with them is a feather in our cap. We just have to find a way to get better so we can beat them the next time around."