By STEVE WILAJ
Armed with a deep roster and plenty of athleticism, Springfield High knows how it wants to attack opponents this season.
“This year we’re gonna get up and put pressure on teams,” Tigers coach Eric Fender said. “We want them to turn the ball over.”
That game plan worked to perfection when they hosted Columbiana on Friday night.
In a 54-25 rout of the Clippers, Springfield (1-1) forced Columbiana into 25 turnovers and 14-percent shooting.
“We want to get up and down more this year, so overall we did a good job of that,” said Tigers forward Mark Schuler. “We did a good job of getting back on defense when we were pressing and had someone backside at all times when we were trapping.
“We just made it difficult for them to get off good, quality shots.”
Columbiana (0-2) finished the game 6 of 43 from the field. The Clippers missed all 13 of their 3-point attempts and scored in single digits each quarter.
“They create a lot of problems offensively and we didn’t handle it very well,” said Clippers coach Jason Baker. “We tried to go too fast and were out of control and obviously didn’t shoot the ball well.”
Schuler did shoot it well, finishing with a team-high 10 points. He also collected seven rebounds as well, doing the dirty work for Springfield.
“My role this year is to get rebounds basically — get rebounds and put them back in,” Schuler said. “If I do that, I think we have a good chance of winning. If I get rebounds, I can either kick it out or get a good quality shot off.”
Ryan Kohler added nine points for the Tigers, while Jake Ohlin and Graham Mincher each scored eight. Ohlin and Joe Wrask also had seven rebounds apiece.
Fender said the offense will be a process after losing point guard and leading scorer Eoghan Bees from last season.
“But we’re deep,” he said. “We have a junior class that’s working hard and a sophomore class that has a lot of ability. If we can get them to mesh, we see a lot of good things coming.”
Baker said the Clippers need to improve their offensive production.
“Two things: we have to make better decisions with the basketball and we have to finish at the rim,” he said. “There were four or five point-blank layups in the first half that we missed and that changes the game.”
Devin Rice paced Columbiana with 15 points and eight rebounds. He made all nine of his free-throw attempts.
“I thought our defensive effort was fantastic tonight,” Baker said. “I thought we played hard the whole time. We just have to get better offensively.”