Boardman tops Harding to clinch AAC Red title

Anderson, Trevena keys

to full-court pressure



Derrick Anderson and his Boardman teammates knew an All-American Conference Red Tier championship was on the line when they took to their home court on Friday night. They played as if there was no doubt as to that crown belonged to in a 74-53 victory over Warren Harding.

The league title is the 19th for the Spartans (15-3, 8-0).

“We challenged the guys to try and play their best game,” Boardman coach Pat Birch said. “I don’t we think we’ve played a better half than we did in that first half. The defense was there. The pressure was there. Everything we’ve been trying to do all year was there.”

The Spartans opened on a 13-0 run in which Che Trevena netted seven points and Anderson tallied six as the point men of the Boardman press.

“We had lots of energy,” Anderson said. “We wanted to win the conference championship. It started with our defense. We pressured them. The ball just found us.”

That pressure was a bit too much for the Raiders (11-9, 7-3).

“They’re good,” Harding coach Gabe Bubon said. “We spent two straight days, three hours of practice time, on our press breaker. It didn’t work. Our only chance was to fundamentally break the press. [Boardman] has our number. We just didn’t get it done.”

The Spartans netted 32 second-quarter points and led, 49-20, at the half largely at the hands of the full-court press.

“That’s been our calling card most of the year,” Birch said. “We tried to get the guys to buy in. As the season has gone on, they’ve gotten a little better, a little better, a little better. Che is so versatile and Derrick, with the ball in his hands, is as tough to guard as anyone in the area. HE’s special with the ball in his hands. He makes a lot of plays for us. I couldn’t script a better first half.”

In case Birch has any doubts, the Spartans have bought in.

“We challenge each other every day in practice,” Anderson said. “The coaches put us in great positions to win games. We want to win and that leads to turnovers and made baskets.”

That approach frustrated the Raiders to no end.

“We just had too many turnovers,” Bubon said. “My guards just can’t turn the ball over that much. There were times we basically handed the ball right over to (the Spartans). I’m trying to get a grasp on [why we struggle like that]. Their press really bothers us. Then, when we break it, there’s a 6-foot-5 kid waiting for us under the basket and those guards are chasing us from behind. They’ve got nine or 10 guys who can play at 100 mph. We just don’t have any room for error. Once we started turning the ball over, it got ugly quick.”

Anderson finished with a game-high 23 points.

“My teammates found me open,” Anderson said. “If I had a chance, I attacked and got to the rim. If that wasn’t there, I tried to use my mid-range jumper or found the open man.”

Trevena scored with 14 points, Ethan Andersen had 13 and Nick Torres had 10 off the bench.

D’Muntize Owens paced the Raiders with 12 points, Emari Burgess scored 11 and Dom McGhee added nine.

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