NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In a real cat fight, claws are out and fur flies. On Tuesday night it was the ITCL’s version as the Wellsville Tigers got the best of the fight with the Springfield Tigers 64-45.
“It means a lot, especially since they went undefeated last year,” Wellsville junior guard Justin Miller said of the win. “We got a great win tonight, and that will really boost your confidence.”
“This is a big win for us,” Wellsville coach Bug Thompson said. “They have had a lot of success up here, they have a big tradition. I see that they have won the league four years in a row. It’s big for these guys, for a team with only one senior and all juniors it will be a big motivational boost for them.”
Wellsville wasted little time in seizing the momentum and pulling away from Springfield following the opening tip-off. They would go on a 7-0 run to start the game and would pull out to a commanding 21-7 advantage at the end of the first period.
Wellsville would extend their lead to 22-points with 3:37 left in the first half when they went up 31-9. By halftime they held a 19-point, 34-15 advantage.
“We got ahead early. We hadn’t been. We have been starting slow,” Thompson explained. “Tonight we went into a zone and it was like we got every rebound. (Michael) Shope dominated the boards in the first half out of that zone.”
“My biggest gripe for tonight is not even on the offensive end, you look at the first quarter we had some wide open shots and they didn’t fall. But we have to find a way as a group, as a team, to buckle down defensively,” Springfield Coach Eric Fender remarked.
Springfield would pick up the intensity to start the second half as they would cut Wellsville’s lead down to 9-points with 3:23 remaining in the third stanza with a 12-2 run. Graham Mincher’s free throw made it 36-27. But Wellsville would not let Springfield get any closer as they finished the period with a 9-0 run and a 45-27 lead at the conclusion of the third.
“Yeah, we stayed back in a zone, they hit a couple shots, and we stayed in it. When they did miss we were still getting out and running, and I think they started to get tired,” Thompson said.
Wellsville would go on to outscore Springfield in the fourth period 19-18 for the final 64-45 total as both teams substituted freely midway through the quarter.
Justin Miller led Wellsville with 22-points while Jake Green added 16 and Michael Shope 15. Shope would also contribute 14 rebounds and 4 assist, while Miller had 6 assist and Brandon Patterson had 5 rebounds.
Springfield was led on the night by Grant Nezbeth with 12-points and 4 rebounds while raham Mincher added 11-points.
Wellsville would also capture the J-V game as Matt Rawson led them with 9-points. John Ritter scored a game high 11-points for Springfield.