Spartans put 11 players in the scoring column in dominating win

Sports

Howland playing without star player Anthony Massucci gone for the season with a knee injury

The Spartans were led by senior Ethan Andersen with 18 points in a 48-45 win Friday

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The combination of a tenacious Boardman Spartan defense and the loss of Howland star player Anthony Massucci spelled a bad combination for the Tigers as the Spartans grabbed an early lead and never let go in a 56-26 thumping of the Tigers.

“Obviously with Massucci out it changes it around, and it will take some time for them to adjust but coach Bubon will figure it out.  My heart goes out to Massucci.  I really enjoy watching him play this year.  He is one of my favorite kids to watch with just the way he plays,” Spartans coach Pat Birch remarked.

The Spartans put 11 players in the scoring column and forced the Tigers into only connecting on 1 basket in the entire first half.  The Spartans jumped out to an 18-2 lead at the end of the first quarter and then held the Tigers scoreless in the second as they built a commanding 29-point first-half lead at 31-2.

“The key for us that last couple of weeks is that we are getting balanced contributions,” Birch said.  “A lot of that is guys getting comfortable in their roles.  Most of our guards this is their first-time with varsity play and I think they had some hesitation trying to figure out when they should be aggressive and when they should shoot, and now we’re starting to see them get comfortable.”

With the Tigers losing Massucci their offense could not find any rhythm and shot only 6% from the floor in the first half.  They also committed 10 first-half turnovers.

“So we went from him (Massucci) controlling our offense to now in one day trying to figure out how to play without him.  And this is what you’re going to get sometimes,” Tigers coach Dan Bubon said.

He added, “Twenty-six years of coaching and I’ve never had a first-half (like that).  I look up and we had two points, but it was like they were all looking around for Anthony.  We played two weeks ago and they (Spartans) beat us by four.  Of course, Anthony was there, but the whole group played better.”

“We have been trying to get more energy on that side of the floor,” Spartan’s senior Spencer Smith commented about their defense.  “Forcing more turnovers and get more easy buckets.  That helps us get bigger leads.”

The Spartans would stretch out their advantage to a game-high 34-points late in the third quarter at 43-9 before holding a 43-11 lead at the end of the third stanza.  The Tigers would continue to fight as they outscored the Spartans 15-13 in the fourth frame.

The Spartans were led by Spencer Smith scoring 10 points while Marco Stilliana came off the bench to collect 8 points.  Ethan Anderson and Ty Ventresco each grabbed 5 rebounds to help the Spartans on the boards.

“We’re playing better than the last time we played them too,” Smith said. “We had extra motivation tonight to get the win.”

DeRon Burke came off the bench to lead the Tigers in scoring with 9 points on the night.  Jordan Sperling added 6 points.

“I personally believe we will put a much better effort forth tomorrow,” Bubon said of his Tiger squad.  “I think some of these kids just needed to experience this tonight and understand that if ‘I don’t step up and score, no one is going to score’.  It’s something that unfortunately we have to go through.  We’re going to learn fast.”

The Spartans improve to 10-3 on the season with the win, 4-0 in the All-American Conference.  The Tigers fall to 4-7 on the year, 1-3 in the league.

The Spartans will be right back in action Saturday night when they travel to Warren Harding. The Tigers also play again on Saturday when they host Mooney.

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