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A cold Wednesday in January canceled school across multiple counties in Northeastern Ohio, but it did not keep all the basketball teams out of the gyms! As The Boardman Spartans hosted their long-time rival in The Austintown-Fitch Falcons for girls basketball night on the network! The one and only previous matchup of the season between the two squads saw The Spartans pull away as a part of a 47-38 win over Fitch on December 21st, 2022. Wednesday night would also be a critical in-conference game for Boardman, trying to keep pace being one game back of conference-leader Canfield at the time, while Fitch was just looking to play spoiler and garner momentum before the tournament. 

The first quarter saw what many other games prior had seen, with both teams exchanging in back and forth scoring to start. Mackenzie Riccitelli has become a Falcon nightmare in recent years, as she got off to a hot start for Boardman, scoring The Spartans first five points out of the gate for a 5-0 run, finishing with 10 points in the first quarter alone! Ayla Ray and Jocelyn Jourdan would muster up an offensive response for The Falcons, cutting the Boardman lead, leaving The Spartans up 14-11 after a quarter. The second quarter wound up being a turning point in the ballgame, with Boardman having a lid on the bucket, despite good looks from the field. Fitch would capitalize with good defense and translating defense into offense getting Zayda Creque involved and Ayla Ray connecting on two more deep shots! A 17-5 second quarter run allowed Fitch to take a 28-19 halftime lead, capped off by an impressive Zayda Creque buzzer-beater three pointer! 

Out of the half, Riccitelli tried willing Boardman back into the ballgame, scoring 8 of her team’s 10 points in the third quarter; however, Creque carried over her momentum from the previous half, scoring 9 points herself in the third. Allowing Fitch to extend their lead to 15 points heading into the final period. Out of the fourth, The Spartans hunkered down and attempted mounting another signature comeback to add to the season highlights. Riccitelli and Sarah Bero each scored a half dozen in the final eight minutes, enabling Boardman to outscore Austintown in the final quarter. However, a different Falcon stepped up every quarter, including Destanie McCullough in the fourth! Scoring 11 points on the night, with 9 of them coming in the final quarter. Splitting the defense like chopped wood, McCullough helped put the game on ice for a Fitch victory 58-51, to draw even at one game a piece in their season series with their rival. 

Player of The Game honors went to “The Ray Gun” Ayla Ray for her consistent outside shooting and scoring overall. Always a great all-around ball player, Ray contributed with four three pointers on the night in a 16 point performance. Creating a “Splash Sisters” duo with her teammate Zayda Creque as The Falcons gear up for the final stretch of the regular season. Boardman (10-7)(4-2) will now hit the road in a conference matchup with Canfield (15-1)(5-0) on Saturday, January 28th. Fitch (9-10)(3-4) will also be away on Saturday, in their final regular-season matchup with Harding (8-11)(0-5). Interviews with winning Head Coach Natalie Lynn and Player of The Game Ayla Ray can be found below! 


Scoring (Fitch)

Ayla Ray: 16 PTS. (Player of The Game)

Zayda Creque: 15 PTS.

Destanie McCullough: 11 PTS.

Jocelyn Jourdan: 8 PTS.

Kylie Folkwein: 4 PTS.

Samantha Severn: 2 PTS.

Rachel Spalding: 2 PTS.


Scoring (Boardman)

Mackenzie Riccitelli: 25 PTS.

Sarah Bero: 8 PTS.

Cami Goske: 4 PTS.

Ava Freeborough: 4 PTS.

Bella Martin: 4 PTS.

Reagan Smith: 3 PTS.

Faith Walston: 3 PTS.


Scoring by Quarter

Q1: Fitch 11 – 14 Boardman

Q2: Fitch 17 – 5 Boardman

Q3: Fitch 16 – 10 Boardman

Q4: Fitch 14 – 22 Boardman

Final: Fitch 58 – 51 Boardman

*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell

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