PREP BASKETBALL Springfield topples Salem to begin busy 7-day stretch

The Tigers beat the Quakers 48-42 and have two more games this week.
SALEM -- With four games in the next seven days, the Springfield High boys basketball team won't have much time to rest. But that's just the way coach Brant Spaite wants it.
"It will prepare us for the tournament and we won't have time to sit around and get rusty like some of the other teams," he said of the busy schedule.
The Tigers began their week Tuesday night with a trip to Columbiana County to take on current Salem (and former Springfield) coach, Jeff Brink and his upstart squad.
Springfield looked shaky at times, but did just enough to come away with a 48-42 victory to get the final week of the regular season off to a good start.
"We were pretty rattled in the fourth, but down the stretch the kids stepped up and did what they had to do to get the job done," said Spaite. "We knew it was going to be physical and we hung in there and made a few free throws when we had to.
Win over MAC team
"It was a big game because it was against a bigger school and obviously it was against a former coach. The MAC [Metro Athletic Conference] has some quality basketball teams and we just wanted to play up to that level."
Springfield's tough stretch continues with a road game at Poland on Friday and a home game against Inter-County League rival South Range on Saturday.
The Tigers begin Division III tournament play next Tuesday against St. Thomas Aquinas.
Salem (8-11), seeking to secure a chance to finish the regular season with a .500 record, played hard and had more than its share of opportunities to win.
Quakers battle back
The Quakers battled back from a tough third quarter during which Springfield went on a 13-2 run to take a nine-point lead. Salem got within 42-40 with 2:34 left in the contest.
Needing defensive stops and turnovers, Salem's defense came through. But, as has been the case in several tough losses this season, the Quakers couldn't finish the job.
Salem shot just 11-of-21 from the free throw line, including 4-of-10 in the fourth quarter.
"We got the steals and turnovers we needed, but we didn't take advantage," said Brink. "We know we can come back from these types of deficits, but we just aren't making the plays when we need to. That was the difference.
"In six of our last seven games we've played teams seeded in their tournaments and we've played pretty well," he continued. "We're still young and still learning."
Good shooting game
Springfield was very efficient shooting the basketball. The Tigers took just 34 shots, but made half (17), including six 3-pointers.
"It was a nice team win tonight," said Spaite. "You can't ask for anything better than to win in a pressure game like this on the same floor you'll be playing on in the tournament."

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