SATURDAY Boardman girls set for Hoover

Saturday's game will be a matchup of the fourth- and fifth-ranked teams in Division I.
BOARDMAN -- Boardman High girls basketball coach Ron Moschella must really like flowers, because when you mention North Canton Hoover, he goes mum.
"It's just a game," said Moschella, whose Spartans visit North Canton at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. "If we win, we learn something. If we lose, we learn something. This ain't the tournament."
Maybe not, but considering the Vikings may have cost Boardman a state championship last year, it's not just another regular season game.
Just ask his players.
"They're our biggest rival," junior Amber Bland said.
"It's like a turning point to our season," senior Lauren Craig said. "We want to see if we've gotten better since last year."
Hoover beat the Spartans 49-34 to win last year's district title and went on to win the Division I state title. Before that, Boardman had beaten North Canton in the tournament in two previous meetings.
League opponents next year
Boardman will play the Vikings twice next season when the Spartans join the Federal League, but it's already a big rivalry for the players.
And the fans. Let's just say Moschella won't win a popularity contest in North Canton.
"I don't know how popular I am there -- I haven't done a survey," he quipped. "Maybe I have a better rating than President Bush."
The game will feature two of the state's best players -- and, coincidentally, two of the state's best Ambers. Bland was last year's Division I co-player of the year and Hoover senior guard Amber Robinson was the MVP of last year's state final four.
Hoover's (12-2) only major loss from last season was Abbey Moore. The Vikings are ranked fifth in Division I in the first Associated Press poll. Its only losses were to top-ranked Beavercreek (55-46) and third-ranked Hudson (50-37).
Boardman's (12-0) only major loss from last season was Ashlee Russo. The Spartans are ranked fourth.
Expects intense atmosphere
The atmosphere should be intense, but "I don't think it will be any more intense than the Ursuline game," Moschella said. "Hopefully we'll have some Boardman fans there."
The Spartans don't get a break after Hoover. They play Lancaster -- which lost to Hoover in the state semifinals -- on Monday.
"Our kids are going to get tested," Moschella said. "Whatever happens, we're going to learn from it and go from there."

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