By Steve WILAJ
Late in the fourth quarter, just as its lead was cut to five, Boardman High executed its finest play of the night.
Facing the Polars Bears’ full-court pressure, all five Spartans flawlessly moved the ball down the court without it ever touching the floor, resulting in a key layup and foul shot by Megan Volosin.
It was the perfect way to cap a well-balanced 61-48 victory against Massillon Jackson on Wednesday night.
“That was a game-changer for sure,” Boardman’s Kelly Tomcsanyi said. “It definitely gave us our confidence back and all that good stuff.”
The Spartans (5-11, 2-6 Federal League) had plenty of good stuff going on throughout the game, jumping to a 35-27 halftime lead and never looking back. As a team, Boardman connected on nine of 22 shots from behind the arc.
“In the first half we hit shots,” Boardman coach Jeff Hammerton said. “The last couple games, we’ve really struggled in the first half. Against [Canton] GlenOak on Saturday, we were 3 of 21 in the first two quarters. Today, I know we were much better than that.”
Tomcsanyi led the charge with 23 points on 6 of 9 shooting. She also connected on 9 of 11 free throws, many coming down the stretch to close out the Polar Bears’ comeback attempt.
“I think the difference was at the end, we started making our foul shots,” Tomcsanyi said. “We made our last six, which was very important. We also boxed out and got a lot of rebounds.”
Anna Pantoray added 12 points for the Spartans, Volosin scored 10 and Jenna Kuczek had nine.
“When we get a balanced scoring like that, we’re a tough team to beat,” Hammerton said. “It’s got to be balanced for us to win basketball games.”
The Spartans were also strong defensively, holding Massillon Jackson to 40-percent shooting and only 21 second-half points.
Abby Duffy led the Polar Bears with 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting, while Annie Dehnke had nine and Shannon Sellars scored seven.
“We knew Duffy was a tough matchup — she’s a big girl,” Hammerton said. “She doesn’t just get hers when they pass it to her, but on the offensive glass, too. So we had to keep her off the glass and I thought everybody did a good job.”
Massillon Jackson sharp-shooter Landrie Grace was held to just six points, which Tomcsanyi said was important.
“Defensively, I think we did our job,” she said. “We wanted to shut down Grace, and I think we did that. We also wanted to watch for Duffy and we ended up holding her at the end, so that was our goal and we did it.”