CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – South Range Raiders girls basketball team continued their winning ways Monday night with a 63-42 victory over the Boardman Spartans on the Raiders home court. The win improves the Raiders to 15-2 on the year while the Spartans drop to 4-12.
The win gives the Raiders momentum heading into the final stretch of the season, but it may have come at a costly price. The Raiders standout senior forward Maddie Durkin turned an ankle in the first quarter of the contest and left the building to get x-rays as a precaution.
“She never shows any kind of discomfort even when she gets hurt. We’ll wait and see what happens,” Raiders coach Tony Matisi said.
With Durkin out, the Raiders 6’1 freshman Danielle Vuletich took over the game as she came off the bench to score 9 of her game-high 21 points in the second quarter to propel the Raiders. With the Spartan scrappy play, they were able to keep within 8 points of the Raiders despite not making a single shot from the floor.
The Spartans would force the Raiders into committing 10 fouls in the first frame, but unfortunately, they were only able to convert 9 of the 20 free throws they had in the stanza. As a result, the Raiders held a 17-9 lead at the end of the first period. The Spartans would not hit a shot from the floor until the 5:51 mark of the second stanza when Raegan Burkey hit a jumper from the right side of the key.
“We can’t keep using the excuse that were young,” Spartans coach Jeff Hammerton admitted. “I know we start three freshmen, but you have to make shots. Our goal was to spread them out and try to get them in foul trouble by taking the ball strong to the hole. I thought we were executing the game plan, we just weren’t making any free throws. And we’re not a team that’s built to come from behind.”
“I don’t want to play zone. I’ll do anything in order to avoid playing zone,” Matisi said with a grin. “But it had me thinking. Let’s stop the penetration. It didn’t get to that point. We were both in the double bonus in the first quarter.”
But once Vuletich and junior Brook Sauerwwien enter the game, the Raiders were able to go on an 11-2 run and a 28-11 lead late in the second quarter. The two combined to score 10 of the Raiders 18 points in the period, but perhaps more importantly, they combined for 8 rebounds. The Raiders would outrebound the Spartans 34 to 20 on the night, and hold a 15-point, 35-15 lead at intermission.
“I was trying to get as many rebounds as I could and hustle. Draw fouls and get to the line. Just get as many points as I could to help my team,” Vuletich explained. “When Maddie went down, we all knew we had to step up our game because she is one of our key players.”
“When Brooke is inside with me and Izzy (Lamparty) is on the outside we just dominate the boards,” Vuletich added. “She (Sauerwein) has the hops and I have the height and we just get those rebounds. She’s really aggressive too. She hustles a lot and that helps her get the ball.”
“They weren’t making a ton of shots, but they were getting two, three shots. And even when we came down with a rebound we would fumble it out of bounds, and then they would score,” Hammerton described the Spartans miscues.
The Raiders would continue to pull away in the second half as they went on a 14-9 run to start the third quarter to hold a game-high 25-point lead at the 2:45 mark of the frame. They would lead 50-31 at the end of the third period.
The Spartans would get no closer than 19-points in the final frame as the Raiders continued to apply pressure and dominate the boards under the basket. The Raiders converted 5 of 7 free throws to keep the Spartans from chipping away from their large lead in the fourth quarter.
“This win is really big because we all know Boardman is a big school and a big name. So getting a win over Boardman puts us in a spot where other teams that we can go up against these D1 and D2 schools and we can beat them and hang with them,” Vuletich said of the importance of the win.
“Just what they get to practice against every day and the numbers. We have eleven kids. Their schedule helps them a lot, and people look at the records but they really don’t go into it. But that’s a good strong, big team. They forced us into a lot of their tempo which hurt us,” Matisi added about playing Boardman.
In addition to Vuletich’s 21 points, Brie Modic and Bree Kohler each reached double digits with 11 and 10 respectively. Vuletich would grab a Raiders single game record 18 rebounds in the game, with Sauerwein hauling down 9 and Izzy Lamparty with 5.
The Spartans were led by Raegan Burkey with 18 points on the night, while Cate Green came off the bench to knot 11. Katelyn Sawyer would haul down 5 caroms to pace the Spartans on the boards.
Next up for the Raiders is another home game Thursday night as they will host Crestwood. The Spartans will travel to East for an AAC league game Saturday afternoon next on their schedule.