After 19 wins, could Boardman duplicate their success?

The Spartans welcome Niles for the season opener.

Boardman Spartans High School Basketball

2017-18 Boardman Boys’ Basketball Preview
Head Coach: Pat Birch
Record: 19-5 (10-2), 2nd place in AAC Red Tier

More:High School Basketball previews from other teams

The Good News
The last time a Boardman team won 18 games in a single season was 30 years ago (1986-87). Last year’s team finished 19-5 including a 13-3 mark in games decided by 10-points or less. The Spartans believe that type of success can be duplicated. “We have four returning letter winners from last year,” indicates coach Pat Birch.” Our leading scorer and four-year starter Holden Lipke returns, Mike Melewski returns at point guard as a three-year starter. Junior Che Trevena returns as a two-year letter winner, along with senior Dom Stilliana.” Senior Lipke led the Spartans in scoring (14.1) as well as field goal shooting (54.2%), three-point percentage (43.0%) and free throw shooting (70.9%). Lipke also finished second in assists (2.6) and rebounding (5.9) for the Spartans. Holden’s classmate Melewski added 8.8 points, hauled down 3.0 boards and dished out a team-best 2.9 assists as a junior. Melewski was one of five Spartans to shoot 35% or better from long distance (35.9%). Another senior Stilliana made 40% of his three-point shots a year ago (4-10). Junior Trevena averaged 7.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists while shooting 51.2% from the floor (63-123) and 65.1% from the line (28-43). “A real strength of ours this year will be depth of talent,” says Birch. “We’ll have twelve guys battling for playing time which will provide nice competition for us. I’m excited about our overall skill level this year. We have a lot of guys who are good two way players.” Also keep an eye on senior JaJuantae Young along with juniors Ryan Archey and Cam Kreps – who should be key pieces to Boardman’s success in 2017-18.

2017-18 Schedule
Dec. 5 – Niles, 7
Dec. 9 – vs Mentor (at Poland’s United Way), 2
Dec. 12 – at Steubenville, 7
Dec. 15 – Lakeside, 7
Dec. 19 – Canfield, 7
Dec. 23 – vs. Jackson (at Mount Union Classic), TBA
Dec. 27 – Poland, 7:30
Dec. 29 – at Fitch, 7
Jan. 5 – at Howland, 7
Jan. 12 – at East, 7
Jan. 13 – Hudson, 7
Jan. 16 – at Struthers, 7
Jan. 19 – at Harding, 7
Jan. 26 – at Lakeside, 7
Jan. 30 – at Canfield, 7
Feb. 2 – Howland, 7
Feb. 6 – Lakeview, 7
Feb. 9 – at Mooney, 7:30
Feb. 13 – at Louisville, 7
Feb. 16 – East, 7
Feb. 20 – Harding, 7
Feb. 23 – Fitch, 7

Challenges
Boardman lost John Ryan (8.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg), Travis Koontz (7.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Sebastian Heinonen (5.0 ppg) and Coleman Stauffer (3.9 ppg, 1.3 apg) due to graduation. “Replacing the leadership and experience of six graduated seniors will be our biggest challenge by far,” points out Birch. “We lost a great group of leaders who really understood what we’re trying to do. How well our team gels together on and off the floor will determine how successful we are. On paper – our talent level will not drop off from last year’s 19-win team, the question is will our leadership and togetherness also remain.” Another concern is the lack of size on the interior which could become an issue as the season progresses.

With all of the success last season, the Spartans now have only one winning season in the last six years. Boardman had compiled a winning percentage of 23.4% (27-88) over the course of the previous five seasons before last year’s 19-5 record.

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 37.5% (84-140)
League Championships: None
Playoff Record: 4-10
Sectional Championships: 1 (2017)
District Championships: None

2016-17 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 58.0
Scoring Defense: 52.7
Rebounding: 31.2
Field Goal Percentage: 45.3%
Three-Point Percentage: 34.2%
Free Throw Percentage: 60.5%
Turnovers: 14.2

2016-17 Results
Lake 62 Spartans 52*
Spartans 62 Louisville 54*
Spartans 63 Fitch 51
Spartans 60 Perry 58
Mooney 47 Spartans 45
Spartans 83 Lakeside 56
Spartans 68 East 52
Spartans 65 Lakeview 61
Spartans 66 Howland 50
Spartans 51 Canfield 44
Spartans 86 Lakeside 52
Hudson 48 Spartans 32
Spartans 59 Louisville 54
Harding 54 #10 Spartans 43
#10 Spartans 44 Struthers 37
Spartans 62 Mooney 45
Spartans 60 East 55
Spartans 53 Fitch 50
Spartans 55 Howland 52
Canfield 55 Spartans 45
Spartans 61 Steubenville 60
Spartans 61 Poland 56
Spartans 63 Niles 43
Spartans 52 Harding 51
-Playoff

AP Rankings (Last 10 years)
Last Top 10 ranking: #10 (Jan. 9, 2017; D1)
Rankings Since Jan. 2008: 1
Last game vs. Top 10 team: vs. #9 Canfield, 75-67 loss (OT) on Feb. 2, 2016
Record vs. Top 10 teams since Jan. 2010: 0-8

Key Number
Last year’s playoff win over Louisville on March 4 produced the Spartans’ first sectional championship since 2001 (def. Canton McKinley, 52-49).

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