The Spartans scored the first eight points and beat Ursuline 74-58.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN -- Boardman High boys basketball coach Dan Gorski has to be very happy with the direction his Spartans are heading.
That is a good sign as tournament time approaches.
At Ursuline, coach Steve Leslie isn't ready to panic, but knows his team now isn't playing as well as the one that was state-ranked just last month.
Matt Marks scored a game-high 20 points and the Spartans led from start to finish, beating Ursuline 74-58 in a Steel Valley Conference game on Tuesday night.
Making strides: "Since the second week of January I have really seen this club make great strides," Gorski stated. "We caught Ursuline on a night when they were undermanned and that allowed us to take an early lead. We then were able to protect that lead the remainder of the game."
The Spartans (9-8, 4-3 SVC) scored the first eight points of the game, took a 15-6 lead on a Marks' jumper midway through the quarter and led 20-13 after one. Marks had eight points in the quarter.
"We had what I felt was our best overall scoring distribution of the season," Gorski noted. "We've made significant strides with our patience and shot selection. That has afforded us more free throw opportunities as the season has progressed and our underclassmen right now are really contributing for us."
Brian Weiser and Jay Davis each scored four points in the second period as the Spartans took a 40-24 halftime lead.
"We were flat and lacked emotion tonight," Leslie said. "We are a much better team than we showed. We need to do a better job of pressuring our opponent."
Marks scored 20 seconds into the second half to give the Spartans their largest lead of the game, 42-24.
Bit of a spark: Kevin Coleman then injected some life into an otherwise stagnant Irish (12-6, 4-3) offense as he hit three triples and Andre Edmonds added seven points to cut the Spartan lead to 55-44.
Twice in the final quarter Ursuline got the lead under double digits -- the last time at 65-56 when Marc Palermo made two free throws with 2:58 remaining.
The Spartans, however, scored nine of the game's final 11 points -- all at the foul line -- to seal the win. Eric Baldwin scored five of his seven points at the line.
Baldwin finished with 13 points and Mike DeOnofrio added 11.
Edmonds had a team-high 19 points and added five rebounds for Ursuline. Palermo added 12 and Jimmy Riley 10.
Boardman's Nick Stefanovic led all rebounders with 10 while Baldwin dished out four assists. Marks and Weiser had four steals apiece.