Late surge kicks Springfield in to gear
By ERIC FORTUNE
It took nearly two-and-a-half quarters before the Springfield High School boys basketball team was able to get the separation needed in Friday’s 76-56 victory over Mineral Ridge.
Until then, Mineral Ridge’s Jordan Zupko kept the Rams (2-8, 1-4 Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference) within striking distance, scoring 27 of his game-high 28 points in the first three quarters.
“For the last two years, Jordan has been one of the more of the effective scorers on our team,” Mineral coach Steven Hughes said. “He has the ability to score in bunches. That’s what he did tonight.
“With that said, as the game wore on, we needed other guys that can step up and make shots,” Hughes said. “The defense started keying on him. We were having difficulties keeping him isolated.
“I thought Brandon Walters did a good job taking Jordan out of his game in the second half of the third quarter.”
The next leading scorer for the Rams was Jordan’s brother Koby with nine.
The turning point came after Zupko’s 27th point to give the Rams their last lead, 45-44. The Tigers (6-3, 4-1) closed the quarter on a 10-0 run to give them their largest lead — nine.
“Zupko played a great game until we started to face-guard him,” Springfield coach Steve French said. “He hurt us. He made everything.
“I don’t think our defense was that bad,” French said. “It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t that bad. He made a lot of shots.”
The Tigers had a lot of success in the early part of the game with their post-game thanks in large part to the efforts of Shane Eynon who finished with a team-high 27 points and 10 rebounds.
“We had an advantage inside,” French said. “I thought their zone wasn’t bad. It hurt us a little bit and they went away from it.
“We tried to pound the ball inside. These guys haven’t fed the post a lot so it’s something we’re working on. It’s something new for them. Just like the trapping. They’ve never trapped before. We’re trying to press and trap people.”
Eynon was a force inside getting to the line 13 times as the Rams essentially play five guards but have two players that have to play the role of post players.
“In terms of rebounding, Triston Weiss and Joe Rozzi are our presence on the glass,” Hughes said. “When we get into foul trouble, we have problems trying to match the physicality of what other teams can do. Springfield’s post players did a great job of crashing the glass.”
In the first half, the Rams were up to the task of limiting Springfield’s second chance opportunities and spreading the Tigers’ defense with Springfield holding a 16 to 12 advantage at the half.
That changed up drastically when Springfield started coming down with those boards finishing with a 31 to 21 advantage. Springfield was essentially able to run at will outscoring the Rams 22-11 in the final quarter and holding them to just two field goals.
The Tigers finished with four players in double figures in scoring with Drew Clark adding 19 points after being out for the last week due to an illness.