Boardman tops Fitch at buzzer
Dan Kubala's basket gave the Spartans a 51-49 victory over the Falcons.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
BOARDMAN -- There was no way that you could tell that the Boardman and Austintown Fitch boys basketball teams shared just five victories this season when they hooked up in a Federal League contest Friday night.
The two rivals battled to the wire before Boardman's Dan Kubala scored on an inbounds play under his own basket at the buzzer to give the Spartans a 51-49 victory.
"That was Boardman-Fitch," Spartans coach Jared Cardillo said. "I've been a part of it for 10 or 12 years as a player and coach, and it's always like this.
"It was a really good game. It was intense and we made it exciting by not holding on to the lead."
Falcons rally back
Kubala's game winning shot was set up after the Falcons roared back from a 10-point deficit in the final four minutes to tie the game at 49 with 41 seconds remaining.
Cardillo called two timeouts in the final seconds to set up a final shot attempt that went off as planned when sophomore Ryan Pesta (who had a career high 21 points) got a wide open look at the top of the key.
The shot wouldn't fall and the rebound bounced off the leg of a Fitch player with 1.9 seconds left.
Without any timeouts, Boardman executed the inbounds play that won the game.
Pick-and-roll for winner
"We ran a little pick-and-roll inside and I went over to set the pick," Kubala said. "The guy fought over and I went to the basket where T.J. [Hosa] hit me with a perfect pass.
"I just had to lay it in."
Boardman (4-8, 2-3) has been playing good basketball of late with a talented group of underclassmen, led by Pesta and freshman T.J. Moore.
Moore scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help keep the Spartans in front most of the game.
Fitch (2-10, 0-6) rallied several times after Boardman started to pull away, but looked like they would not be able to overcome Boardman's 42-32 lead with 4:53 left.
The Spartans built the lead after two Fitch players were whistled for technical fouls and one Falcon player was ejected.
Pesta hit five of six free throws and four in a row to give the Spartans the 10-point cushion.
Fitch roared back as Jon Stockman hit three straight 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 18 points in the final four minutes.
Reedy ties up contest
The Falcons finally tied the score at 49-49 on a three-point shot by Joe Reedy.
"It was unfortunate that Boardman got the last opportunity," Fitch coach Roger Day said.
"One of these days, we are going to figure out a way to win one of these tight ones and gain some confidence.
"We obviously didn't start out real good, but we played hard to the end."
The Falcons stayed in the game with some pressure defense and by shooting 50 percent from the field (17-34).
Reedy and Marcus Boyd chipped in with nine points apiece. Billy Jones added six points and seven rebounds.
Cardillo said that his young team is improving every game, but inexperience down the stretch by the underclassmen has made closing out games a little tough.
"We're learning how to win," Cardillo said. "Tonight will go a long way in helping us mature."