Championship hangover

Big Red boys fall in season opener

FINDING ROOM — Steubenville’s Kevin Bishop dribbles with Boardman’s Derrick Anderson guarding on Tuesday. (Photo by Andrew Griimm)

STEUBENVILLE — The Steubenville boys basketball team experienced something in its season opener against Boardman Tuesday night inside the Crimson Center that it did not experience in 15 weeks of football: defeat.

The Spartans fended off a few Big Red runs in the second and third quarters and pulled away late in the fourth quarter for a 58-53 victory.

“We had them come in on the Thursday after the game on Saturday (December 2),” Big Red coach Mike Haney said. “We gave them five days of rest, then had five days of practice leading up to this game. We didn’t expect to be where we needed to be right away. Our basketball guys have been practicing for six weeks in an open gym, so we kind of wanted them to lead the team.

“With the football players playing 15 games, we knew they were competitors, and they would come out here and compete. It’s going to take us about three weeks for the football guys to get there basketball legs under them. We like to get up and down the court and press, and we aren’t able to do that right now because we would just be running guys into the ground not being in basketball shape.”

Both coaches made reference to some of Big Red’s players having a quick turnaround from winning the Division IV football championship 10 days ago being a factor.

“Any time you go on the road on a Tuesday night, you have grind out some games, and we did that tonight,” Boardman coach Pat Birch said. “I think we were fortunate tonight to catch them at the beginning of the year. I told their one assistant that I don’t know if we will ever schedule you any later than game two or three.

“That team is going to be very good once they get their football legs gone and their basketball legs going.”

Big Red finished with 35 turnovers, compared to 30 by the Spartans. Steubenville outrebounded Boardman, 34-26, led by 12 from James Roundtree, who finished with a double-double.

“We had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Haney said. “We talked before the game the three things I said we needed to do to win were compete, play great defense and rebound well. We thought we had some size and strength, so we tried to focus on (rebounding).”

Boardman (2-1) got off to a good start, holding a 17-13 lead after the opening eight minutes.

Big Red got on a roll in the second quarter. Kevin Bishop drained a 3-pointer that tied the score at 25-25. Then, with 2:50 to go before the intermission, Josh Zimmerman gave Steubenville its first lead. It did not last, however, as the Spartans recovered to take a 31-29 lead into the locker room.

Roundtree scored six of his game-high 17 points early in the third quarter to give Big Red a five-point lead, its largest of the night. Steubenville led 39-37 after three quarters.

“We had a nice little turnaround there in the second quarter and the first few minutes of the third quarter,” Haney said. “(Roundtree) did good. He ran the court early in the third quarter. He made three transition buckets in a row, beating their post player down the court to make layups.”

Boardman did not get rattled, though, coming through with its best quarter of the night to close out the win, putting up 21 in the final eight minutes.

“We showed some maturity,” Birch said. “In our game Saturday, we didn’t respond well all the time. I thought when Steubenville made their runs we had some more composure, and we answered it with more poise, which is a really good sign.”

Roundtree pulled Big Red to within one with 3:07 to go after the Spartans retook the lead. Boardman’s Holden Lipke (12 points, four rebounds) drained a pair of free throws with 2:06 to go to give the Spartans a four-point advantage.

A pair of free throws by Boardman’s Che Tievena with 34.2 seconds left made it a six-point game. Javon Davis (11 points) made his second 3-pointer of the night with 24.7 to go to pull Big Red back to within three, but Boardman added three more free throws in the final 18 seconds to put the game away.

“It was a close game,” Haney said. “It was really a two-point game until we had to start fouling, and they made their foul shots. We were there. That team is really good, coach Birch does a heck of a job, and they have great athletes.

“It was there third game, and they average about 70 points. We knew our offense isn’t where it needs to be, so we knew the game had to be in the 50s for us to win. I thought we played good defesne, but we just had some breakdowns here and there.”

Game Notes:

Boardman won the jayvee game as well, 66-35. The Spartans were led by 14 points from Tom Fryda, while Steubenville got 11 from Ryan Rauch.

Big Red is back in action on Saturday back at home against Minerva at 4 p.m. Boardman is also home on Saturday facing Ashtabula Lakeside.

Boardman 58, Steubenville 53

Boardman 17-14-6-21 — 58

Steubenville 13-16-10-14 — 53

BOARDMAN (2-1): Young 2 0-0 5; Archey 2 1-2 5; Lipke 1 9-11 12; Colman 0 0-0 0; Melewski 2 2-4 6; Anderson 3 2-3 8; Commack 1 0-0 2; Tievena 6 4-5 16; Tories 0 0-0 0; Eicher 2 0-0 4; Shirilla 0 0-0 0; Miller 0 0-0 0; Stilliana 0 0-0 0; Davis 0 0-0 0; Fryda 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19, 18-25, 58. 3-POINT GOALS: Young 1, Lipke 1. REBOUNDS: 26 (Tievana 8). TURNOVERS: 30.

STEUBENVILLE (0-1): DaJuan Jones 1 0-0 3; Davis 4 1-2 11; Biasi 0 0-0 0; Jorian Jones 2 2-2 6; Zane 0 0-0 0; Zimmerman 2 3-5 7; Bishop 1 0-0 3: Roundtree 6 5-5 17; Smith 2 1-2 6: Bracone 0 0-0 0; Bickerstaff 0 0-0 0; Rauch 0 0-0 0; Clevenger 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18, 12-16, 53. 3-POINT GOALS: DaJuan Jones 1, Davis 2, Bishop 1, Smith 1. REBOUNDS: 34 (Roundtree 12). TURNOVERS: 35.