BOARDMAN OH- Two teams that were in the midst of a season turnaround matched up on Saturday afternoon. Boardman had won 5 of the last 6 coming in to the day, and West Branch came in winning 3 of the last four. This Warriors team was also drastically different than the one on tape for most of the season. That’s because West Branch star Sophia Gregory was back in the lineup. Gregory had been out the entire month of December.
West Branch jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Boardman could score a point. With the Warriors up 13-5, Boardman went on a 14-0 run between the first and second quarters and led 19-13. The Spartans led the rest of the game, but their margin varied. West Branch kept battling back from multiple deficits, and eventually Gregory would hit a pair of late free throws to tie the game at 50-50. In what might have been the play of the game, Mackenzie Riccitelli stormed back on defense after Chloe Dennison leaked out for the Warriors in transition. In what seemed like would be a game winning layup, ended up being a massive defense play as Riccitelli stripped the ball out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left on the clock. The Warriors maintained possession, but couldn’t get a shot off in time. The overtime period was a patient one, both teams didn’t rush their offense. The Warriors earned a couple of trips to the free throw line and kept the game deadlocked. Boardman had one final try to win the game as Cami Goske got fouled down low with 3.3 seconds left in overtime. Goske was 0-6 at the line at the time, and admits her confidence was low. She missed the first of two, putting all the pressure in the world on one free throw. She took a breath, gave herself a pep talk, and knocked down her only free throw of the game, but the most important one. Boardman pulled off the thrilling 55-54 win.
Riccitelli led the way for the Spartans with 23 points on the day. Gia Triveri was also in double figures with 11. Bella Martin had a good day in the paint scoring 9 points. Goske’s free throw that won the game brought her total to 7.
West Branch was led by Gregory with 15 points. She went 6/8 at the free throw line. Hannah Egli scored all of her points from beyond the arc as she hit 4 threes and finished with 12. Cami Campbell and Mikalyn Fitts both scored 7.