Tested Tigers off to 3-0 start
By John Bassetti
Eric Fender has four seniors and a sophomore who were part of a team that reached the Div. III regional semifinals before losing to Bedford Chanel at the Canton Fieldhouse last March.
That’s helped Springfield so far this season as the Tigers won their third straight game — the latest a 57-44 win over South Range in an Inter Tri-County League Tier One game on Tuesday night.
Jared McTigue, Eoghan Bees, Alex Wharry and Joe Caraballo are the seniors and Mark Schuler is the sophomore who had a role in the 2011-2012 success, but there’s more on the horizon.
McTigue and Brandon Chamberlain, another sophomore, both scored 16 points, while Bees added 15 for Springfield, which jumped out to a 16-8 first-quarter lead.
“One of the biggest things we talked about with Jared [McTigue], was that he has gone from being mostly a post player last year to now being able to step out and shoot the 3 and he showed that in the third quarter,” Fender said of the 6-2 senior who had 14 of his points in that period.
Chamberlain’s output is also something Fender expects, at least on a night when Schuler had four points.
“Mark’s going to go through a growing period because he’s only a sophomore,” Fender said. “It’s the same thing we told Brandon [Chamberlain]: our expectations are for them to go out and play hard every night. If they score 16 or 18 points, fantastic, but we need them on the floor and we need them to be a part of our team to give ourselves the best opportunity to win.”
Springfield’s point production jumped from 21 in the first half to 36 in the second.
“One of the things that South Range did in the first half was to take away our driving ability and they forced us to shoot the ball from the outside,” said Fender.
“When the second half came around, we got a few easier buckets, which allowed us to get into our defense better and we started taking the ball to the hoop and being a little more aggressive.”
Fender said that his Tigers got comfortable in the first half and settled for a lot of 3s.
“At halftime, we told the guys, ‘Hey, if the 3s are falling, great, but if not, we’ve got to start figuring other things out,’” he said. “We did a nice job of penetrating and getting into the gaps and then kicking out and, hopefully, hitting the shot.”
Springfield’s previous wins were over Lowellville and East Palestine.
“We’ve had three good, solid games but we’re still working on putting four good quarters of basketball together,” he said. “But the kids are trying to do the things they know how to do and the things we’re teaching them in practice.
“It’s going to be a long season. It’s going to be a grind. Everybody in the ITCL and everyone on our schedule is going to be tough for us.”
South Range (2-3) had three players in double figures with 11 apiece: Mason Miller, Tyler Beverly and Garret Anderson.