ALLIANCE — For the ninth time in 10 years, the Boardman High girls basketball team will play for a Division I district championship.
Despite missing starter Monica Touvelle due to injury, the Spartans used a solid defensive effort in the second half and a balanced offensive attack to pull away from Federal League rival Massillon Perry 43-29 in the district semifinals Thursday night at Alliance High School.
Boardman will meet Canton McKinley on Saturday afternoon in a rematch of last year’s district title game, which the Spartans won 54-46.
“With the loss of Monica, I thought we might be in some trouble, but the girls really stepped it up and I’m really proud of our defensive effort,” said Boardman (16-7) coach Ron Moschella. “We did a good job of covering their big people and covered their outside shooters, too.
“We had a couple sophomores in there tonight that really did well for us. Offensively, we really executed the four corners and got some layups. Emily [Abraham] hit some big 3s for us and she’ll hit those shots when she’s open.”
Abraham, a senior guard, provided the bulk of Boardman’s offense in the opening half, scoring 12 of her 17 points before halftime. She connected for three 3-pointers in the first two quarters.
Perry (14-9) kept it close early with strong perimeter shooting, knocking down four triples. The Spartans led just 18-16 at intermission.
But in the second half, Moschella brought 6-foot-2 post player Darryce Moore to the top of the defense, which caused the Panthers’ shooter problems.
Having a tough time shooting over Moore, Perry tried to get the ball inside, but ball pressure from Boardman’s guards made entry passes challenging.
The Panthers did not convert any 3-pointers in the second half and were outscored 24-13 in the second half.
Moore took over the offense for the Spartans, pouring in 11 of her 17 points after intermission.
Boardman began pulling away early in the fourth quarter when Abraham drilled a 3-pointer at the 6:19 mark to give the Spartans a 34-25 advantage. Perry could only muster four more points the rest of the way.
With McKinley up next on Saturday, Moschella is counting on a little divine intervention in order for his squad to pull off the upset.
McKinley defeated Boardman 50-26 on Dec. 20, as the Bulldogs swept through the Federal League regular season and tournament unbeaten in 10 games, winning by an average of almost 34 points per game.
On Thursday night, McKinley defeated North Canton Hoover 83-50 in the other semifinal. The Bulldogs have won three tournament games by an average of almost 40 points per game.
“We need some help,” said Moschella. “I’m really proud of the girls for getting to the district title game. McKinley knows what they want to do and we know what we want to do, so whoever gets it done better will win.”