NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WYTV)-In a battle between the ITCL’s two division champions, it was the Springfield Tigers who proved to be the overall league best with a 70-56 win over the McDonald Blue Devils Tuesday night. The victory improves the Tigers record to 20-0 on the season while the Devils drop to 14-5.
“It means a lot, they are a good team,” Tigers junior guard Graham Mincher said. “They are the second seed in the division IV tournament. It looks good, and it was a good win for us tonight here at home. To come back in the second half and finish the job.”
It was the second half of the contest that proved to be the difference in the game as the Devils only trailed by three points at halftime, 37-34. The Tigers grabbed the lead early in the game and at one point they held a 10-point lead at 23-13 with 50-seconds remaining in the first quarter when Tiger senior forward Brandon Chamberlain hit a three-pointer from the left corner.
But the Devils roared back with a 18-8 run to start the second frame, capturing a 33-31 lead with 3:31 left in the stanza when Jake Reckard connected on a three-point shot. That was the Devils only lead of the game. However, the Tigers would close the quarter with a 6-1 run to take a three point lead at intermission.
“They were pretty much doing the same thing except we were opening windows,” Tigers senior forward Mark Schuler said of the Blue Devils come back. “Our defense, we were getting a little too much out in front and that was giving them seams and they were able to drive and kick it for easy layups.”
The second half was a different story as the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to start the third period. Leading that surge was Mincher who scored five of his game-high 24 points starting the half.
“Basically we had to come out with just as much or more energy as we did in the first half. We knew this game was going to be a lot of running, and pressing on both sides. So we knew if we came out with as much energy and eliminated the turnovers we would be in good shape,” Mincher explained.
In addition to Mincher’s 24 points, Schuler added 14 points and 9 rebounds, while Brandon Chamberlain chipped in 12 points.
“A three point deficit at halftime, we were pretty content with that, but in the second half we come out and they immediately jump up by ten. I have to call a timeout. We cut it to five and we throw a silly pass on the wing that gets stolen for a layup. Against good teams you can’t do that,” Devils Coach Jeff Rasile said.
The Tigers would go on to lead the Devils 53-45 at the close of the third quarter. They would outscore the Devils 17-11 in the final frame to account for the 14-point final margin.
The key to the game was that they killed us on the boards,” Rasile explained. “I don’t know what the numbers are, but I’m sure they are pretty ugly. We knew we had to maintain turnovers, keep control of our turnovers, and rebound the basketball. We didn’t do either.”
The Devils were led by Brad Woodley on the scoreboard with 22 points, while Jake Reckard added 14 and Anthony Pugh chipped in 12 points on the night.
“This is a great prep for the tournament,” Tigers Coach Eric Fender said. “They are a very good team, well coached, and I think they have a lot of high aspirations trying to get to the district finals. It’s a good measuring stick for us.”
McDonald would capture the J-V contest by a 48-47 score.