New Waterford – The Springfield Tigers wrapped up the ITCL season with a hard-fought 74-68 victory over the Crestview Rebels Friday night behind a solid performance by sophomore Gram Mincher. Mincher would tally a game-high 27 points on the night to lead the Tigers to a 16-4 overall, and 13-1 league mark. The Rebels fall to 9-11, 7-7 in the league.
“Mincher’s stepping up for us,” Tigers coach Eric Fender remarked. “He’s playing a nice game. He handles the ball well, he shoots the ball well. He still has to learn a few things defensively, but you know what, you’ll have that with a sophomore. But
it’s not even Graham, it’s everybody that has stepped up. Jake Ohlin had a great game, Marky Schuler who has been a consistent dominant post player for us. He has had a nice season as well. Every night it has to be someone stepping up.”
The Tigers started the contest with a 12-4 run, aided by a three-point shot by Brandon Chamberlain at the 4:19 mark of the first quarter. But following a time-out by the Rebels head coach Herman Miller, the Rebels regrouped and put together a 9-2 run of their own to close the gap to just a one-point deficit at 14-13 at the close of the quarter.
“I thought we initially made some mistakes right in the beginning of the game and dug a 12-4 hole, took a time-out. I thought we came out of that with the right mentality, we got good possessions, we got stops, I liked our first quarter defense,” Miller remarked about the start of the game.
The Rebels would tie the game at 15-15 with 6:33 remaining in the second quarter when Eric Lloyd converted a layup before the Tigers went on a 19-10 run the rest of the way through the stanza, and held a 34-25 lead at halftime. Mincher would connect on two three-pointers to help power the Tigers in their burst.
The Rebels continued to battle back in the second half as they stayed on the Tigers heels, and eventually took a 41-41 lead with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter when Josh McDade powered in a layup from the base line. McDade would take charge of the paint in the second half as he drove in for 16 of his 21 points on the night in the second half.
“He’s a little bit of a bull in a china shop, but you the thing is he is just big enough and good enough with it he’s one of our options to get it up and down the floor. It’s what he offers us, it’s sometime not going to highly refined, and it’s going to have some corners to it, but in the end he is one of the people we have on the floor to break pressure and handle the ball we people come get us,” Miller said.
Part of McDade’s scoring came when the Rebels senior guard Collin Gilbert turned his ankle under the basket early in the third quarter. “It’s no secret we have inexperienced ball handlers beyond him, our next best ball handler is Josh McDade as a forward,” Miller explained.
Following a back and forth start to the fourth quarter, the Tigers would go on a 13-6 run to go up by 9-points at 63-54 with just over two minutes left in the game. But the Rebels would keep battling as they would get the margin down to just three points with 12-seconds remaining when Dylan Hart hit a three-pointer for the Rebels, making it 71-68. However, Ohlin and Brandon Chamberlain would connect on three of four free throws in the closing seconds to clinch the game.
“We knew that they would be up on a high with it being senior night,” Fender said. “I really loved the competitive spirit of McDade, Hart, and Collin Gilbert. They have had great careers here at Crestview, and you can’t do anything but tip your hat to the way they came out and competed.”
Other than the 27-points by Mincher, Schuler had 18-points and 11 rebounds, while Ohlin and Chamberlain each scored 9 points on the night.
The Rebels were led by McDade with his 21-points and 10 rebounds, while Gilbert added 20 points, including two three pointers, and Eric Lloyd added 10 points.
TIGERS WIN GIRLS ITCL CHAMPIONSHIP:
In the first game of the night, the Tigers girls team wrapped up a share of the ITCL Upper Tier championship with a 59-35 victory over the Lady Rebels. The victory closes out league play with a 13-1 record, tying South Range for the title. They improved to 18-2 on the year. The Rebels fall to 10-11, 7-7 in the ITCL.
After a close first half battle, the Tigers were able to pull away in the second half led by senior Baylee Felger with 21-points, along with Jill Tabaka with 12, and Kennedy Richey with 10. The Tigers only held a 8-point 29-21 lead at intermission, but out scored the Rebels 15-6 in the third quarter, and 15-8 in the fourth stanza to win going away.
“It was their senior night, we expected them to come and be a little but more excited, trying to send off their seniors in the right way,” Tigers head coach Jim Schuler remarked. “They knew what they were fighting for in terms of getting us out of the league lead. So I knew it was going to be a bit of an intense moment, especially at the beginning.”
“The biggest thing is, we took care of the ball in the second half and that was the bottom line. For the most part our defense was solid, and we forced tough shots. We didn’t give a lot of layups up, and not many free throws in the second half.”
With the victory, the Tigers captured their first league title in four years, and that was something that this team was focused on capturing down the stretch of the late season. “I said it all depends on how much you want to work, and they kind of bought into that. I don’t know if they really understood at the time what they were capable of but as we got through it they started to realize that hey this is possible.”
The Rebels were led by Anna Hardenbrook with 9-points, and Emily Ferris with 8.