On the first Friday of The New Year, boys basketball filled The YSN airwaves with 17 games, on the boys side alone, that entertained multiple counties throughout northeast Ohio. January also means conference play, which there was no shortage of, including that which occurred in Austintown, Ohio when two All-American Conference (AAC) foes met. When the reigning, defending, undisputed four-time consecutive conference champions in The Boardman Spartans traveled across town in their first matchup with Austintown-Fitch on the hardwood this season. 

When speaking of The Spartans, they have been a conference juggernaut to say the least. Winning The AAC four straight years, two of which (2018-19, 2019-20) were in the old AAC-Red and the other two (2020-21, 2021-22) in The AAC we know today. But when speaking of Boardman against Austintown in particular, it has been a one-sided matchup. With The Spartan emerging victorious against The Falcons in 11 of their last 12 meetings, including a nine-game winning streak against Austintown heading into Friday night! The last time Fitch tasted victory against their foe? December of 2017, a five-year plus drought! 

Through the first nine games of the season for both teams, it looked like a potential shift in the conference may be on the horizon, as teams such as Canfield (7-2), Fitch (6-3) and Howland (6-3) sporting solid records, while Boardman was 4-5. However, The Spartans looked to take that change of script, crumble it up and toss it directly in the trash on Friday night. Jumping out to a quick double-digit lead, Boardman led 16-6 after one quarter of play.As guys like senior Demarr Clark playing take over ball out of the gate on both sides of the floor. The second quarter saw The Spartans keep that same energy, while sophomore David D’Altorio joined the fun, knocking down a handful of threes as a distance deadeye that helped extend the Boardman lead to 14 points, 31-17 at the half.

Out of the half, Fitch looked to battle their way back in the conference bout. Falcon sophomore Carter Owens started to find his rhythm from the arc out to start the third, as Fitch started to finally see some shots fall and be able to throw some offensive punches back at The Spartans. Boardman was able to hold Austintown back enough after three, still maintaining a 43-34 lead entering the fourth quarter. To start the final eight minutes, Boardman had started to give the ball up by way of turnovers that propelled Fitch on an 11-0 run to start the final quarter, capped off by Austintown senior Gianni Maley converting an and-one, allowing The Falcons to take their first lead of the night 45-43! Boardman showed poise after the large run, with Brady DiPietro nailing down a response three pointer to reclaim the lead 46-45! Fitch was loaded with a counter response though, as Freshman Allex Hill muscled home a bucket to give The Falcons the lead back late in the fourth at 47-46! Turnovers continued to plague Boardman, allowing Austintown to get extra possessions and forcing Boardman to send their adversary to the line in the expiring minute of the fourth. Fitch would make enough free throws down the stretch, claiming the win 50-47 for the first time in over five years against Boardman! 

Boardman (4-6)(0-1) will look to get back on track in the conference, facing another set of birds, this time hosting Canfield (7-3)(0-0) on Tuesday, January 10th. Also on Tuesday, Fitch (7-3)(2-0) will head to Warren Harding (6-4)(1-0) in their first matchup with The Raiders of the season. Interviews with winning Head Coach Brian Beany and Player of The Game Gianni Maley can be found below! 


Scoring (Austintown)

Gianni Maley: 15 PTS (Player of The Game)

Marcel Finkley: 11 PTS.

Carter Owens: 11 PTS.

Allen Hill: 6 PTS.

Cam Jaros: 5 PTS.

Allex Hill: 2 PTS. 


Scoring (Boardman)

DeMarr Clark: 14 PTS.

David D’Altorio: 12 PTS.

Terrell McDowell: 8 PTS.

Nico Holschuh: 6 PTS.

Brady DiPietro: 5 PTS.

Noah Ziak: 2 PTS. 


Scoring by Quarter

Q1: Fitch 6 – 16 Boardman

Q2: Fitch 11 – 15 Boardman

Q3: Fitch 17 – 12 Boardman

Q4: Fitch 16 – 4 Boardman

Final: Fitch 50 – 47 Boardman

*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell