In a game in which the ball seemed to be out of bounds more than in, it was easy to see that Springfield Local was in a zone against Brookfield in a non-conference game that had all the signs of a rout as it unfolded.
“Every time we match up in a zone, the one thing we try to do is change the defenses,” Springfield Local coach Eric Fender said of various sets used against Brookfield (8-5) from the outset that concluded in a 51-35 win Tuesday night.
“We tried to vary it a little to make them think about what looks we’re giving them,” Fender said of his team that was able to capitalize on many loose balls and defensive rebounds that eventually gave the Tigers their 16-point lead in the end.
“They’ve got a nice core of kids coming back and they gave us some trouble on certain things,” Fender said, “but, luckily, we were able to execute and make some foul shots on the offensive end.”
Sophomore Graham Mincher had a game-high 17 points, while junior Mark Schuler and senior Jake Ohlin added eight apiece for the Tigers of the Inter Tri-County League. Springfield was 10 of 11 at the foul line to Brookfield’s 8 of 11.
Jordon Peterson and Ohlin started the second quarter off with a 3-point goal apiece to give Springfield (10-4) some breathing room and Mincher hit another trey later to give the Tigers a comfortable 26-18 halftime lead.
“We started making shots and, once they saw one ball go in, the guys started getting some confidence and think they can do it too. Once we started seeing the ball go in the hoop — getting some confidence underneath us — we’re OK. The one thing we wanted to do was contain them, make them shoot the perimeter by contesting them as much as we could.”
Junior Nate Johnson’s 11 points and 10 rebounds paced independent Brookfield, which led, 9-4, before the Warriors’ baskets became few and their turnovers many.
Mincher, a 5-10 point/shooting guard, attributed most of his 17 points to his own defense and that of teammates.
“We held them to 35 points and forced them to turn the ball over a lot, which turned into fast-break buckets for us. We had them at 18 points at halftime, when coach told us to keep doing what we’re doing.”
In the third quarter, Schuler had three consecutive halfcourt steals that resulted in his own layup, followed by his assists to Mincher and Hunter Snyder. Coupled with Ohlin’s 3-point goal before the Schuler-precipitated spurt, Springfield Local’s lead went from 26-20 to 35-22.
“Our goal was to put pressure on them,” the 6-5 Schuler said. “From the scouting report, we saw that they struggled with pressure, but that they could shoot the ball well. So, we figured that if we got under their skin a little bit, then we could possibly get some steals and easy buckets – and we did.”
Schuler said that Fender’s halftime message was for his Tigers to maintain the pressure.
“It would have been very easy for them to get back in the game if we relaxed for even a few plays. Our goal is not to take plays off at all; our goal is to keep pressing them as much as we could.”