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Tigers avenge thumping



Published: Wed, January 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Raiders entered the game ranked 14th in Ohio's Division III.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

NORTH LIMA -- On Sept. 28, Springfield's Pat Birch and Dan Schuler watched as South Range pounded the Tigers 41-0 in football.

They would not forget it.

"We took that personally," Birch said. "They had their starters in with three minutes left and that gave us an incentive for tonight. We wanted to hold them under 41 points."

Springfield did that and more.

The Tigers' defense clamped down on South Range in the third quarter, forcing eight turnovers and outscoring the Raiders 15-3. Springfield then cruised to a 58-40 Inter-County League victory Tuesday night at South Range High School.

"That third quarter took us out of the game," South Range coach Harold McCue said. "We had a brain lock. We just stood around and watched them play. Our shooting was pathetic."

The Raiders (5-1, 2-1) shot 1-for-9 in the quarter and missed their last seven shots.

Schuler scored eight of his 20 points in the period, as the Tigers (7-1, 3-0) took a commanding 49-30 lead at the end of three.

Full throttle: "We came out in the third and really tried to open it up, especially in the first four minutes," said Schuler, who had seven rebounds. "I always come into the game with a gameplan and I know who I'm facing in the post and what their tendencies are."

South Range entered the game ranked 14th in the AP poll in Division III. Springfield, which went undefeated in the regular season last year, was not ranked.

"We took that as a slam at us," Springfield coach Jeff Brink said. "That's bulletin board material. Nobody notices us. The highest we were ranked last year was 11th. We win games and we drop in the polls. Nobody gives us any respect."

Birch, a 6-1 guard, had six points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

"I started off struggling with my shooting so I tried to do something else to help out," Birch said.

The two teams went back and forth in the first quarter and a half before Springfield started to take control. Trailing 19-17 midway through the second quarter, Springfield went on a 12-2 run to take a 29-21 lead.

The Raiders cut the lead to 31-27, but Jim McLaughlin hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Tigers some momentum going into halftime.

"That was a big shot," McCue said. "Instead of being down four points, we're down seven."

Then the roof caved in on South Range.

The Raiders went 1-9 in the third quarter and missed their last seven shots. South Range trailed by 23 points at one point in the fourth quarter.

"That was a great defensive effort," Brink said. "Our matchup zone worked well and to hold a team like that to 13 points in a half says something."

Range summary: Ryan Copeland led South Range with 14 points -- all in the first half -- and eight rebounds. Jim Sanders had 12 points and two steals.

"We have to see what we need to do to get to [Springfield's] level," McCue said. "We're not there yet. We play them again in two-and-a-half weeks so I'm going to look to see if our guys respond a little better."

scalzo@vindy.com




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