By Dan pompili
A strong third quarter and tough second-half defense wasn’t enough for Lisbon to overcome the Springfield Tigers’ offense Tuesday night.
The Tigers (13-3, 12-0 Inter Tri-County League, Tier One) took it to the Devils, 51-34, thanks to a strong first half and solid leadership from their stars.
Eoghan Bees and Mark Schuler combined for 19 points in the first half en route to a 30-11 lead as they entered the locker room. The Tigers found the inside looks often and also dropped the Tigers’ only 3-pointers of the night during an 18-point second quarter. They had little trouble thwarting the Devils’ efforts, causing turnovers and grabbing rebounds to create fast breaks.
“We pressed them and tried to create easy baskets by creating turnovers, and I thought in the first half we did that very well,” Springfield coach Eric Fender said.
But victory was not to be had so easily.
Lisbon (6-11, 3-9) came out fighting and as the second half began as the roles seemed to be reversed. Defensive pressure kept Springfield far from the hoop and the Devils bedeviled the Tigers with fast breaks off multiple steals, rattling off seven unanswered points in just over a minute.
“It was all effort and intensity, and I’m not sure whether that was their kids being complacent with holding onto the lead or if it was our kids waking up,” said Devils coach Chris Huckshold.
The Blue Devils held Bees scoreless during a 15-point third quarter performance in which Springfield managed just nine.
“I told my guys at the half that they’re (Lisbon) young and they’re not going to give up and they showed that in the third quarter with a lot of resiliency and you gotta tip your hat to them,” Fender said.
Despite continued defensive pressure, though, Springfield found enough answers in the fourth to head off a Lisbon comeback. Bees’ six points cancelled out Austin Rutecki’s six for Lisbon and the Devils got just two more points off a Corey Brammer foul line appearance, while the Tigers found six more of their own. Rutecki led the Devils with nine on the night.
“Springfield’s leading our league and they’re not undefeated in the league for no reason,” Huckshold said.
Bees and Schuler both finished with 14 each for Springfield and Brandon Chamberlain added another 11 points.