A Riccitelli Rampage Vaults Boardman To Round 2
The middle of February has quickly approached and you know what that means? High school playoff basketball! Division 1 got a head start on the playoffs for the girls side of basketball and a premier matchup on the network to kick-off the postseason festivities! That matchup was, of course, none other than Austintown-Fitch taking on The Boardman Spartans. These two fellow All American Conference (AAC) foes were quite familiar with one another and actually both tasted victory against their rival in the regular season. Boardman took the first matchup in Austintown on December 21st, 2022 in a 47-38 win. However, Fitch got their revenge on The Spartans at Boardman with a 58-51 victory of their own against their rival. With both teams holding a win against each other, round three had big stipulations in that it is “win or go home” time in basketball!
Defense took precedence from the opening tip, as both squads were full of energy and looking to rely on a high motor of defensive effort and intensity. In a struggle to find field goals through the first eight minutes, The Spartan senior Gia Triveri was the offensive answer both squads were looking for. An opening quarter three pointer that helped start curbing momentum in favor of Boardman early, Triveri was looking to be effective early on since getting back to 100% on the court! Paired with some stifling defense from The Spartans, aiding Boardman in holding a 9-3 lead after the first quarter. Following the first, Triveri was still feeling it, as she battled through Falcon pressure a few times to draw some early fouls on Fitch! Going to the line four times and converting three shots, while also chipping in a made field goal in the second that helped The Spartans stretch their lead to double digits, 20-9 at halftime and Triveri having 9 points in the first half as well! Equaling The Falcon offense through the first 16 minutes.
The Saturday afternoon matchup returned from the halftime buzzer and Fitch needed to find offense in hopes to get on the comeback trail. Jocelyn Jourdan and Kylie Folkwein attempted to will The Falcons back into the ball game as they went to the line after drawing fouls off second chance looks created by offensive boards. Both players scored 5 points a piece in the third quarter and totaled six of seven made free throws in the quarter combined. But it was none other than Mackenzie Riccitelli that trend up the intensity in the third and once again found her groove against Fitch! A typical 20+ point scorer against Austintown in her career, she has been nothing short of a thorn in the side of The Falcons. Although, through the first half, Fitch held her to six points, The Riccitelli Rampage started in the third. The junior scored half of The Spartans 16 third quarter points to, not only, keep Boardman in front but allowed them to build on their lead once again 36-21!
Both teams were able to draw six team fouls a piece from each other in the third quarter, leaving both of them one foul away from the bonus and setting up a free-throw fiesta in the fourth! A load of players were in foul trouble through the first three quarters of play, forcing the teams to get creative with how they were going to play defense. Spartans Sarah Bero was a disrupter on the glass and with the defense, as she gave Boardman more than one additional possession on the day. The difference in the final quarter? Boardman clamped down on defense without fouling, while going to the line for ten shots at the stripe and converting seven of them. Riccitelli went five of six at the stripe in the final quarter scoring 7 points total in the quarter and finishing with 21! The free throws made all the difference and The Spartans did not relinquish the lead once they captured it, winning over their AAC rival 47-34 on Saturday and sending The Spartans to the next round!
Congratulations and good luck are in order for The Austintown Fitch seniors as their high school basketball journey comes to an end, but not without leaving loads of memories from the last four years. As us here at The Network wish nothing but the best for The Falcon seniors as they embark on their next journey. To Zayda Creque, Kara Pirone, Jocelyn Jourdan, Jordan Binion and Amya Barnette we thank you for the opportunity to cover your careers and be such a small part of your high school journey!
The win for #16 Boardman (15-8) will not only get them bragging rights over their rival, it will now send The Spartans on the road for a Sectional Final against #11 Shaker Heights Red Raiders (15-6) on Thursday, February 16th slated for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off! Interviews with winning Head Coach Jeff Hammerton and Player of The Game Mackenzie Riccitelli can be found below!
Mackenzie Riccitelli: 21 PTS (Player of The Game)
Gia Triveri: 12 PTS.
Sarah Bero: 7 PTS.
Bella Martin: 3 PTS.
Cami Goske: 2 PTS.
Ava Freeborough: 2 PTS.
Jocelyn Jourdan: 12 PTS.
Zayda Creque: 7 PTS.
Kylie Folkwein: 7 PTS.
Destanie McCullough: 5 PTS.
Jordan Binion: 2 PTS.
Rachel Spalding: 1 PT.
Scoring by Quarter
Q1: Boardman 9 – 3 Fitch
Q2: Boardman 11 – 6 Fitch
Q3: Boardman 16 – 12 Fitch
Q4: Boardman 12 – 13 Fitch
Final: Boardman 47 – 34 Fitch
*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell