Struthers rebounds in Boardman
By Tom Williams
Coming off losses to Poland and Canfield, the Struthers High School girls basketball team was happy for a win, even if sloppy was a popular word being used to describe it.
For Boardman, head coach Jeff Hammerton was happy his youth-laden squad found a way to keep the Wildcats within reach during Wednesday’s 42-31 loss.
“We were right there where we wanted to be, down three at halftime,” Hammerton said of Struthers’ 21-18 lead. “That a great basketball team and we’re struggling a little bit.
“We held them to 21 points and that’s exactly where I wanted to be — low 20s and hope we could be in the 20s as well.
“We were close.”
Early on, it appeared the Wildcats (9-2) were on their way to a rout, jumping out to an 11-2 lead as senior Khaylah Brown made three quick baskets.
But she also took two fouls before the game was five minutes old. Soon, Trinity McDowell also spent time on the bench with two fouls.
“That hurt us a little bit,” Struthers head coach John Grandy said. “Our bench is good, but we got careless with the ball.
“And Boardman played hard the whole way.”
The Spartans (4-7) ended the first quarter on a 7-2 run, with freshman Katie Stamp scoring all the points.
Late in the second quarter, the Wildcats’ lead was 21-11 on Keasia Chism’s outside jumper. But after Boardman’s Cate Green made a free throw, Raegan Burkey connected on a pair of 3-pointers .
“She’s only a freshman, she’s getting a ton of experience,” Hammerton said. “Those shots were huge.”
Struthers senior Alexis Bury said the Wildcats were told at the break to keep playing with intensity because “you’re getting a little sloppy.”
Brown opened the second half with a steal and a layup. Bury then made two baskets and McDowell one for a 29-18 lead.
Bury said the surge created “energy and we just kept it going.”
Hammerton said the Spartans almost kept it close.
“At the start of the second half, we ran a couple of good things, but just missed some point-blank shots,” Hammerton said. “We can’t afford to miss those.”
Brown and Bury each scored 10 points to lead the Wildcats. McDowell made eight rebounds and six blocks.
“It was a sloppy win, but we worked better as a team [after] our two losses,” Brown said. “We came back stronger [but] I wouldn’t say we are satisfied.
“They gave us a challenge, but we stayed together,” Brown said. ”We came through in the end.”
Burkey led the Spartans with 13 points and Stamp netted eight and made eight rebounds. Another freshman, Emma Tokarsky, comes off the bench.
The Spartans had to replace the offense lost from Lauren Gabriele and Lauren Pavlansky graduating and point guard Jenna Vivo deciding to not return for her senior season.
“The freshmen have stepped up,” Hammerton said. “Burkey is our leading scorer.