By John Kovach
YOUNGSTOWN — The writing was on the ball, so to speak, in Tuesday night’s boys high school basketball game between East and Boardman at the Panthers’ gym.
Because from the time that Tyrell Henry hurled in a 3-point-goal that traveled more than three-quarters of the floor at the first-quarter buzzer to push East to a 23-9 lead, you got the feeling that it just could be the Golden Bears’ and Henry’s night to rule the court.
And that’s exactly what happened, although it turned out to be a difficult job as the Spartans not only rallied to make a game of it, they almost squeezed out a victory at the end.
With Boardman leading, 63-62, Henry connected for his fourth 3-point goal to make it 65-63, and then he and Trumaine Jenkins each added a foul shot to give East a 67-65 win.
Henry’s foul shot provided the margin of victory.
“As soon as I saw it going, I thought that it was going to go in. He took the shot from inside the foul line so it probably was about a 75-foot shot,” said coach Mark Cherol of East (11-4), regarding Henry’s very long 3-pointer. “I have never seen a shot like that since I’ve been coaching.”
Henry finished with a game-high 19 points, including his four 3-point goals, but he had strong support from Jarelle Burt with 14 points, Norman Johnson 10 and Jenkins and Justin Brown nine each.
“Henry has been playing good basketball. He is our floor general. He has come into his own to play solid basketball,” said Cherol.
But although Henry takes center stage in the victory, Burt is not far behind him because he set the stage for the win in the waning seconds.
Burt’s goal pulled East to within 63-62, and then he stole the ball and passed it to Henry who hit the 3-pointer that gave the Panthers the 65-63 lead.
Then after a crucial Boardman turnover, Henry plugged his foul shots with 12.1 seconds left to provide the winning margin.
Chase Hammond’s basket pulled Boardman to within 66-65 with 4.4 seconds left, but Jenkins’ insurance foul shot at 2.9 seconds created the final score.
“Burt has been a a solid leader the past three games. He came off the bench to help us down the stretch,” said Cherol. “All of my players don’t quit. They have the attitude of don’t give up.”
Coach Jim Goske of Boardman (6-13) said his team failed to capitalized down the stretch.
“Untimely turnovers hurt us and East made their shots when they needed to,” said Goske. “The first quarter is when they beat us [23-9]. But I give credit to my team for battling back.”
David DiBernardi led Boardman with 16 points and played an outstanding floor game, while Chase Hammond added 13 and Dayne Hammond 11, both also turning in strong overall performances. JT Moore contributed nine points.
DiBernardi and Dayne Hammond led Boardman’s comeback charge in the second quarter. DiBernardi scored nine points and Hammond seven as the Spartans rallied to within 30-28 at the half.
And then DiBernardi scored five of Boardman’s first seven points in the third quarter push his team ahead by 35-32.
Goske said East’s defense was the difference in the game.
“They forced us to take quick shots, Their pressure defense dictated our offense,” said Goske. “Their defense played well in the first quarter and put us in a hole.