By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- And so, another (pick one) phenomenal, outstanding, astounding, wondrous game by Boardman High junior Amber Bland led the Spartans past a good team (in Monday's case, Blackhawk) while her talented teammates did the small things that go unnoticed in the box score.
It's a familiar story -- one that describes just about every Boardman win (17 so far, if you're counting) this season.
"Everyone has their role -- and we're happy to do our role," said Boardman senior Allison Davis, who had two points, two assists and three rebounds. "We set picks, pass, rebound, defend, anything."
Bland scored 34 points, the Spartans' defense played well and Boardman pulled away from the visiting Cougars, 65-42.
"People think we're one-dimensional, but we don't have to be if we don't want to be," Boardman coach Ron Moschella said.
The final score wasn't quite misleading, but it did overshadow a good first quarter by Blackhawk.
The Cougars led 17-16 at the end of one quarter and held a 21-19 lead with 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the second. Davis then hit two free throws to tie the game, Bland hit a free throw and the Spartans never trailed again.
"They figured out our zone in the first quarter and they executed pretty well," Moschella said of Blackhawk. "They're a very good basketball team.
"I was sort of scared, to tell you the truth."
Bland scored 16 points in the second quarter as the Spartans outscored Blackhawk 23-11 to take a 39-28 halftime lead.
"We turned it on," Davis said. "When people make us mad, we play better."
The Spartans weren't the only ones getting mad.
Boardman junior Brittany Durkin clamped down on Blackhawk senior, and University of Akron recruit, Dani Hamilton. She had just three points and a rebound before being ejected for arguing with an official.
"I told Brittany to tell [Hamilton], 'My coach made me do this,' " Moschella said of Durkin's defense. "Durkin played great on defense, but she's been doing that all year."
Sophomore Renee Rawding had 22 points and five rebounds to lead the Cougars (18-5), who entered the game ranked fourth in Pennsylvania's Class AAA.
Jen Hlebovy had 11 points and five rebounds for the Spartans (17-1). Durkin had eight points and three steals and Renee Farina added six points and five rebounds.
It was a solid win. A confidence builder. A tournament tuneup.
Anything else to add?
"Yeah," Davis said. "I think we played awesome tonight."