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Springfield leaves mark from arc



Published: Sat, January 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Tigers stayed undefeated in the ICL with a 76-37 win over South Range.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Three-point proficiency is symbolic within the Springfield High basketball program.

That perimeter prowess tells Coach Jeff Brink and the Tigers that they are playing as a unit.

Springfield couldn't have been more together Friday in a game that made the Inter-County League race a bit more clear and possibly paved the Tigers' way to their third straight title.

On the strength of 11 3-pointers, Springfield dominated South Range from start to finish in a 76-37 victory at Springfield High.

"Our kids kept working, working, working," said Brink, after his Tigers (12-1, 8-0) opened a two-game lead in the ICL race. "They were very patient and they found the open guy.

"We've proved over the past few years that when our guys are open, they can shoot the basketball."

But 11 3-pointers?

"We don't have the biggest bodies and we may not have the fastest kids," Brink said. "But when you put our guys together, they're a great unit."

Pulling away: Springfield, which never trailed, may have sent its biggest message late in the second quarter with consecutive 3-pointers by senior Pat Birch, senior Keaton Bullen and junior David Rispinto.

Those quick baskets pushed a six-point lead (25-19) to 15 (34-19) with two minutes remaining in the half.

"We came out tonight to make a statement," Birch said. "We felt the last couple of games we didn't shoot that well. We put it all together tonight."

Birch said the Tigers' first option is to get the ball inside to their post players, including 6-foot-4 junior Dan Schuler, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds against the Raiders.

"Our main offense is to look in to Schuler, look in to the post guys," Birch said. "We just had wide-open looks, and we knocked them down tonight."

Just to assure the Tigers would hang on against their rival, Birch scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter as they outscored South Range 25-6.

"As a senior, he definitely stepped into that [leadership] role," Brink said of Birch. "If you're going into battle, I'd have him at my side."

Bullen added 13 points for Springfield, while senior Matt Kirk led South Range (9-2, 6-2) with 11 points.

"It was one of those nights where you felt everything you threw up was going to go in," said Birch, who made five 3-pointers. "It was a fun night."

No answers: Maybe not so much for South Range and Coach Harold McCue, who was at a loss for words.

"[Springfield] shot the ball lights out, and they deserved to win. We didn't even respond," McCue said. "What else can you say?"

With Springfield ranked 14th in this week's Division III state poll, Brink knows his team must stay focused, especially for the remainder of the ICL season.

"We still have to finish the job," he said. "What we've told our kids is that we haven't won anything. The state rankings, that stuff's meaningless.

"We have to go out and win on the court because that's the only way we can get anything accomplished," Brink said. "We'll look back at the end of the year and hopefully we'll have pride in what we've accomplished."

richesson@vindy.com




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