By DAN pompili
The Boardman High basketball team shot well Friday night whenever the Spartans got a look at the basket.
Massillon Jackson made sure the Spartans didn’t get enough looks to win.
Despite Boardman’s strong start, the Polar Bears’ defense came on strong near the end of the first quarter and never let up in a 55-42 victory.
Though Boardman outplayed Jackson 10-5 to start the second half, the Spartans only scored three more field goals while Jackson went on a 15-2 run to pull away.
“We knew they were gonna try to trap us, it’s what our scouting showed and what we worked on in practice and we thought we prepared well for it,” Boardman coach Pat Birch said.
The Spartans never got into a rhythm as the Jackson defense harassed them for more than three quarters.
“We do things well two or three times in a row and then when we miss, we lose our step, and a good team is going to capitalize on that,” Birch said. “That’s one of the best programs in the state.
“So more consistency is what we’re looking for, as a coaching staff,” Birch said. “When we executed well, we got good looks at the basket. We need to be able to build a lead and maintain it so when they go on a run we’re able to absorb it a bit.”
Junior guard Sam Mathey led the Spartans with 14 points.
“That’s something we’ve been trying to do with Sam is get him to be aggressive and so we’re happy with him tonight,” Birch said.
Reggie Jones and Jamar Steverson contributed eight points each and Jones led the team in rebounds with 13.
The Polar Bears trailed at the end of one quarter, but an 18-6 run gave them a 25-17 lead at the half and they didn’t let go.
“We full-court pressed ‘em and we had to play an up-tempo game and be aggressive and try to slow them down,” Jackson coach Tim Debevec said. “They had a good game plan for us tonight.”
The Polar Bears, (4-2, 4-0 Federal League) were missing two starters. Senior point guard Miles Griffin, a three-year starter, is out with an injured ACL. Nick Dillon started in his place and dropped 11 points, including two threes.
David Smith was ill and Mitch Pugh took his place and led the team with 12 points, Smith was able to contribute two 3-pointers off the bench in the second half.
The Polar Bears shot 10-22 in the second half including 5-7 from beyond the arc. They were 12 of 14 from the free-throw line, as Boardman almost literally fouled the game out of reach.
“We had a nice little spurt there in the second half to gain control,” Debevec said.
The Spartans (2-5, 1-4) face off against Cardinal Mooney next week.