By DAN POMPILI
Arbie Murray didn’t need to break Howland’s single-game record for 3-pointers to beat Boardman on Friday night, but it was a great way to end his final home game as a Tiger.
Murray dropped nine 3s on the Spartans, including six in the fourth quarter — the last a buzzer beater to end the game and set the record — in a 31-point performance on Howland’s Senior Night.
“It’s an amazing feeling — it’s like a fairy tale,” Murray said. “My teammates were keeping me updated on how many 3s I had, and when I tied it, that’s when I knew.”
He dropped two early in the quarter. A few minutes later, he hit two more back-to-back.
After the Spartans managed five final points, Murray hit another 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to tie the record. A turnover put the ball back in his hands with a shot to break it. He shot three times, his teammates fighting for rebounds for him each time, before dropping the last one as the clock hit zero.
“It must have been the chicken parmesan,” he said, referring to his pregame meal at Leo’s Ristorante.
Murray wasn’t the lone bomber though. A 15-of-31 3-point showing for Howland began with John-Mark Weisman, who hit three 3s to set the Tigers on a 13-2 opening run. He added another in the second quarter. Evan Steele added a couple of his own in the first half and Murray had one.
“I think our kids did a good job of understanding who was hot for us tonight,” Howland coach Bill Bogan. “It was John-Mark early, and then Arbie late, and when you have a kid like Brendan Cope in the middle it really opens things up for us.”
Howland built a 33-13 lead at the half, then poured it on as the third quarter began. Murray started it off with a 3, and Cope blitzed the Spartans inside for 10 easy points before they knew what hit them, with help from Reece Bogan.
Boardman fought to keep up with Howland, and at times seemed as though the Spartans might narrow the gap. But turnovers or fouls always seemed to keep the momentum with Howland, which used several shooting sprees to pull away.
“They shot it well. When a team is hitting shots like that, it’s very hard to win,” Boardman coach Pat Birch said. “From our standpoint, there’s a reason teams are shooting well against us. They’re probably uncontested and that’s something we need to work on is getting a hand up. We have a mentality around here that needs to be corrected. If you can eliminate the self-inflicted errors, you can have a chance to win some games.”
As for Murray’s performance, Birch could only say, “You hate to be on that side of history.”
Weisman complimented Murray with 21 points and Cope added 17 for the winners. Brian Fryda led Boardman with nine points — all three-pointers — and Dylan Bosela and Austin Downie each contributed eight.
Both teams begin Division I sectional-district play in Alliance next week. Boardman will meet Youngstown East on Monday, and Howland will face Austintown Fitch on Tuesday.