By Dan Pompili
Things got off to a fiery start Friday as Boardman and Ursuline treated fans to a long-range shoot-out.
But it was what happened after the smoke cleared that led the Irish (10-9) to a comfortable 63-45 win, as both teams head into their seasons home stretches.
It was Ursuline’s Desmond McElroy dueling against Boardman’s Dylan Bosela as the first seven field goals of the game and nine of the first quarter’s 12 shots came from beyond the 3-point arc. With help from Ryan Strollo and Chris Gunther, the Irish bombarded Boardman (3-17) with six 3s only to have the Spartans keep the game within two points at period’s end.
Michael Duda hit his second 3, the game’s 10th, to start the second quarter. The Irish responded with a 9-2 run, holding Boardman to a five-point showing. Ursuline led at halftime 29-21.
“I think in the second quarter they picked up the pressure on us and I don’t think we handled it very well,” said Spartans coach Pat Birch. “You sit back there in zone, you’re pretty much just begging them to shoot it. We know they have good guards and they’re quick and we tried to force them to the outside and hope that they miss.”
The Irish tried to keep their hands hot, but several Strollo 3-point attempts fell short as the game went on. But the the cold hands were not the blessing Birch would have hoped for, as the Irish began to change their strategy.
“They did a good job with trying to zone us up and keep us shooting along the perimeter,” said Ursuline coach Keith Gunther. “I know what their mindset was — that we’re shorter, we’ve got quick guards and they wanted to keep us outside, but we did a good job with getting it inside for some solid shots and hit some lay-ups. I think we did a good job with our full-court press and it really turned the game for us.”
The Irish began to harass the Spartans, and even their failed field goals led to points as they put on a free-throw clinic in the second half, shooting 16 of 19 from the foul line. Kevin Jackson and Preston Williams had 13 between them.
Bosela scored 19 points. Ryan Mckeown had 10.
“ You know, dictating the tempo, that’s something we’ve had trouble with all year,” Birch said. “When we did try to go man-to-man, we didn’t guard the ball very well and we had to foul because we couldn’t keep up.”
Strollo led the Irish with 14 points, and Jackson and Gunther added 10 each.
Birch said he hopes his seniors can rid themselves of the season’s frustrations next week with two wins to end the year, including on Seniors Night at home against rival Fitch
Ursuline faces Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at home today, and ends its season next week against East.