The Spartans easily defeated Canton McKinley 64-41; face Hoover Saturday.
ALLIANCE -- For the sixth straight season, the Boardman and North Canton Hoover high school girls basketball teams will meet in the Division I district tournament to end someone's strong season.
Boardman -- the second seed in the Alliance High tournament -- defeated No. 3 Canton McKinley, 64-41, while top-seeded Hoover -- which lost twice to the Spartans during the regular season -- cruised over No. 4 Canton GlenOak, 52-34.
Neither team is offering any bulletin board material to inspire their opponent.
"It's going to be a battle -- Hoover is tough," Boardman coach Ron Moschella said of the Spartans' sixth-straight district final. "They have five players on [Federal League] first or second team. We have two. I'd have to say Hoover is the favorite."
Hoover's Paul Wackerly countered, "We're playing a little sluggish and they are playing pretty well. It will be interesting."
The district final tips off Saturday at 1 p.m. The Spartans are hoping to make their first regional appearance since 2001.
Boardman 64, Canton McKinley 41
Trailing 8-7 late in the first quarter, junior forward April Melquist scored two baskets to put Boardman (19-3) ahead for keeps.
After a week off, Melquist said it took the Spartans a quarter to get rolling.
"Then it just clicked," said Melquist after scoring 12 points and pulling down eight rebounds. "The first quarter we spent getting a feel for each other."
Moschella said he was nervous but his players weren't.
"Can we give some credit to McKinley?" Moschella said. "Those are a bunch of sophomores playing out there. We have a little more experience for a game like this.
"Once we got out of our jitters, we played pretty good overall team defense and played great offense," Moschella said. "The difference is that our team handles the pressure pretty well."
Good outside shooting
Another difference was Boardman's outside success in the second quarter.
Senior guard Brittany Sirak's 3-pointer put the Spartans ahead 16-12. Moments later junior guard Colleen Mallis sank back-to-back 3s as the Spartans pulled out to a 31-17 halftime edge.
"The first seven games, we didn't hit a three," Moschella said. "We can shoot the three, it's just that we didn't have to.
"Colleen Mallis played JV last year and I never thought she would see the floor," said Moschella of his point guard who led the Spartans with 17 points. "Our guard play was outstanding and April Melquist inside was just an animal."
Senior center Jessica Moore said nerves weren't a problem.
"We were pumped and fired up to be here," Moore said. "I think that's a good thing."
Sirak finished with 11 points and Emily Hays 10.
Tore Fite led the Lady Pups with 22 points.
Hoover 52, Glen Oak 34
Senior forward Brittany Orban led the Vikings (18-4) with 12 points and five rebounds while junior guard Amber Witt and senior center Sahar Nusseibeh scored 11 apiece.
After Hoover jumped ahead 21-7, the Golden Eagles scored eight straight points thanks in part to a technical foul assessed to Wackerly.
The Vikings outscored the Golden Eagles, 16-5, in the third quarter to put the game away.