Spartans shut down Niles' sharpshooters
Matt Marks had a double-double to lead Boardman to victory.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN -- The Niles High boys basketball team hit 17 3-point goals earlier this week en route to an 89-51 victory over Mineral Ridge.
Friday, Boardman knew it would have to shut down the sizzling Red Dragon sharpshooters if it stood a chance.
Niles did have an off night, hitting "just" eight goals from beyond the arc, and it was too little too late as the Spartans pinned a 59-49 setback on their Trumbull County foe at Boardman High School.
"We are a tired team defensively," Boardman coach Dan Gorski said. "We thought we could wear them down with our defensive pressure, but our pressure just isn't what it could be.
"They are a much better team than our kids gave them credit for."
Matt Marks registered a double-double, scoring a game-high 16 points while hauling in 12 rebounds as the Spartans improved to 12-8 this season. It was their fourth consecutive win and the fifth in their last six outings.
Different directions: Gorski has to be pleased with the direction in which his team is heading as tournament time approaches. Niles coach Ron Price knows some adjustments must be made if his squad wants to make a statement in the postseason.
We didn't do a good job of stopping their penetration and missed quite a few open looks," Price said. "When you get outrebounded and don't stop them from driving the lane, it is bound to be a long night."
Niles took an early 8-3 lead, but the Spartans outscored the Red Dragons 11-6 the remainder of the quarter. Dave Soda had seven points for Niles and Marks added six for the Spartans in the quarter.
A Soda three-point play gave the Red Dragons a 23-17 lead midway through the second period, but Mike Finamore scored six of his 12 points in the final two minutes of the half as Boardman took a 29-24 halftime lead.
Taking control: Tyler Spencer hit the last of his four 3-point goals at the 2:23 mark of the third period to give Niles a 41-38 lead. Eric Baldwin and Mike DeOnofrio of the Spartans then combined for seven points during an 11-2 Spartan spurt as they built a 49-43 lead and never trailed again.
The Spartans were 22 of 58 from the field, while the Red Dragons canned just 16 of 44 aerial attempts, including a disappointing eight of 26 from beyond the arc.
The Spartans out-rebounded Niles 47-22. Soda grabbed eight rebounds and registered five blocked shots for the Red Dragons, while Jason Shelton handed out five assists.