By Chuck Housteau
It’s been a tough year for the Ursuline Irish both on and off the basketball court this season.
The Irish have been struggling to post wins on the court and are missing one of its top players, junior Jordan Dubose, because of a serious undisclosed illness.
All the Ursuline players and coaches wore a warmup shirt with Dubose’s name and number 45 into its opening game in the Division III district tournament at Salem against the Springfield Tigers.
The motivation seemed to work as Ursuline defeated Springfield, 53-48, in overtime.
In the night’s first game, St. Thomas Aquinas turned back another Inter Tri-County Tier One team, Crestview 72-61.
“I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights because of the play of this basketball team,” said Ursuline coach Keith Gunther. “But not nearly as many as I have about this young athlete who we wanted to let know that he is still a member of our team and family.”
Gunther said that he knew the contest with the Tigers would be tough because of the outstanding coaching tandem of Eric Fender and his father Tom.
The two teams battled evenly in the first half.
“We want to make Ursuline play at our tempo,” said Poland coach Eric Fender. “We knew that Ursuline is very talented and much better than their record.
“We need to play the way we are most comfortable.”
The Tigers were able to keep Ursuline from running in the first half and kept the game within striking distance.
Brad Ferraro and Jim Zubick were the catalyst for the Tigers in the first half when they scored seven points apiece.
The Irish got balanced scoring in the first half from DeVonte Jenkins, Ryan Strollo, Khiree Gregory and Atim Smith.
In the opener, St. Thomas Aquinas (13-8) had no problem with the Rebels after breaking out to a 17-5 start.
Crestview (5-16) was led by Adam Coppock who poured in 23 points. Brian Orr added 10 points.
Ryan Snyder led Aquinas with 25.