BOARDMAN — The Boardman Spartans were looking for a little kick-start before they resumed Federal League play Friday night at Lake.
A “Senior Night” performance against a good Neshannock team proved to be just the right remedy for the Spartans who had been struggling of late with three straight losses.
Boardman used that strong senior lineup and it’s powerful inside game in the second half to subdue the Lancers 75-67 and will head back to the Federal League on a winning note.
Seniors Chase Hammond scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds while classmate J.T. Moore added 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Spartans pulled away from a 34-30 lead to grab the victory.
“It was nice to be able to take the floor with the guys that I have played here with the last four years,” said Moore, who will play football at Ohio State. “To be able to have a good game and help my teammates get this win was special.”
Boardman coach Jim Goske said having five seniors made it a no-brainer to start them and he let them exit the game together with just a minute left in the contest.
“It’s always nice to get a win on senior night,” said Goske. “We were fortunate to only have five seniors and so they all got to start.
“And then to have them exit the floor as a group at the end and be acknowledged by the crowd was really nice.”
The Spartans came out in the third quarter with increased defensive intensity and were able to work the ball inside to the tall and talented Chase Hammond, Dayne Hammond and Moore who all are 6-foot-4 or better.
“We came out at the start of the second half and played a little harder and got after [Neshannock],” said Goske. “We hoped that we could take advantage of our athletic ability and we talked about that at halftime.
“We came out with some full court pressure and it worked well for us.”
Neshannock (12-7) faltered but didn’t wilt under the pressure or the overwhelming inside game of the Spartans.
After Boardman scored the first six points of the third quarter to open a 40-30 lead, the Lancers continued to battle back behind the shooting of Robbie Nittenger, Joe Fontana and Brandon Marinelli.
Nittenger hit two 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter to cut the Boardman lead to 53-47 at the end of the period.
“I was very proud of our effort,” said Neshannock coach John Corey, who formerly was the coach at Struthers. “We definitely wanted to win and we had some opportunities to win.
Neshannock is a small school near New Castle but Corey wanted to schedule the Spartans to help his team get ready for the post-season.
Fontana led Neshannock with 25 points while Marinelli added 20 and Nittenger finished with 12.
Boardman used its extreme height advantage to grab a 41-22 rebounding advantage and the Spartans had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.
Senior Kevin Johnson scored 10 points for Boardman while sophomore Dayne Hammond came off the bench to tally 15 points.