Behind Amber Bland's 22 points and 10 rebounds, the Spartans sailed past Perry.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
ALLIANCE -- Boardman's opening round Division I sectional victory over Massillon Perry wasn't an artistic success, but it got the Spartans off on the right track in postseason play.
The Spartans placed four players in double figures and their tenacious trademark defense forced the Panthers into 22 turnovers as Boardman pulled away to a 64-36 win.
"For a first game, I thought we played real lackadaisical," Boardman coach Ron Moschella said. "In the second half we played a lot better after we talked about how lackadaisical we played in the first half."
In the second half, the Spartans outscored Perry 37-18.
Moschella said that Perry played a defense designed to stop Boardman's two top players, Ashlee Russo and Amber Bland.
"[Perry] did a lot of different things to try to stop Russo and Bland, but those two were still able to do what they had to do for us to win."
Strong start: Bland was virtually unstoppable in the first quarter as she scored 12 points on four baskets and four free throws. Defensively, the sophomore was instrumental in making Boardman's transition game effective.
"I think Amber [Bland] might have had 10 turnovers by herself," Moschella said.
Bland finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Russo scored 12 points.
After one quarter, Boardman (20-1) held a 19-8 lead and seemed like it might cruise to its next match-up against Canton GlenOak, which defeated Massillon Jackson 34-31.
Perry (11-11), however, had no intentions of letting the Spartans skate into the next round.
Regrouped: The Panthers gained their composure and began to play tougher defense against the Spartans in the second quarter.
Boardman helped out Perry by shooting just 2 of 16 from the field in the second quarter as the Panthers cut the lead to 27-18 at halftime.
Despite the loss, Perry coach Kevin Scarbrough was upbeat about his team's performance.
"I'm proud of my team," Scarbrough said. "We're a team without a lot of gym rats playing a powerhouse with gym rats lying all over the floor.
"I thought we put up a nice little show. We actually gave them some things to go and work on."
Good support: In Boardman's second half rout, the Spartans got a great offensive effort from junior Jen Hlebovy and sophomore Renee Farina.
"We did a great job of getting the ball inside into Hlebovy," Moschella said. "She had a great offensive game, especially in the second half."
Hlebovy scored 15 points and had five rebounds, while Farina came off the bench to score 10 points.
"Boardman doesn't have any holes," Scarbrough said. "They have so much depth I think that they are capable of going all the way."
For Perry, sophomore Jessie Ehmer scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds.