Ohlin’s foul shots leads Springfield to opening league win over Devils

Tigers program continues winning tradition depite changes

Springfield and Western Reserve High School Boys Basketball Game on December 8, 2017
Photo Credit: Lowell Spencer

NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Springfield Tigers may have changed coaches and players, but their program continues to roll on. Friday night they came back from a ten point deficit midway through the third period to pull out a hard-fought 64-61 victory over Western Reserve.

The win improves the Tigers to 2-0 on the season and more importantly kicks off league play with a win over a league contender. The Blue Devils drop to 1-1 on the year, and 0-1 in the league.

“They are a very hard-working team,” Devils coach Pat Daltorio praised Springfield. “Big team, strong team. Obviously a lot of tradition here even though with a new coach and a new program.”

Following a very lackluster performance at the free throw line in the first half, missing on 7 of 8 attempts, sophomore Evan Ohlin helped propel his team into the final moments of the contest hitting 5 of 6 shots from the line. As a team, they connected on 15 of 16 attempts in the second half.

“Our coach was saying that we need to hit more from the free throw (line) if we want to get back in this game,” Ohlin explained the instructions at halftime. “Shane (Enyon) and I started out making two for two, and then we just started going from there.”

“We just kept pushing,” Tigers coach Steve French explained on the Tigers comeback. “We got the ball to the rim and we were able to get some foul calls and the guys made their free throws. We missed them in the first half. That was the difference in the game.”

The Devils carried a 7-point, 29-22 lead into the halftime intermission and built their advantage to 10-points at the 4:24 mark of the third quarter when Riley Miller connected on a three and a layup off of a Tigers turnover moments later. But that is when the Tigers started to chip away at the Devils lead.

Following two free throws by Shane Enyon with 1:19 remaining in the third, the Tigers had closed the gap down to just 3 at 40-37. But then following a three by the Devils Ryan Demsky, the Devils took a 45-41 lead heading into the fourth frame.

Following two more free throws by Enyon at the 7:02 mark of the fourth, the Tigers finally took the lead for the first time since early in the contest at 46-45. The Devils would knot the game at 55 with 2-minutes remaining, however, the Devils standout big man Kade Hillis would go down with severe cramping in his right calf, only playing on offense in the final moments of the game.

“It would have been easy to topple over when they (Springfield) went back and took the lead. I thought our guys were very resilient in the end, and they stuck together,” Daltorio said. “When he (Hillis) did go down, he is our leader, he is the guy that does a lot of stuff for us and that did hurt. When your best players is not out there on the floor, it’s not the best scenario.”

That is when Ohlin and teammate Brandon Walters combined to convert 7 of 8 free throws to seal the game away. Ohlin connected on 5 of 6 from the line in the final 30-seconds.

“We made a couple of good free throws down the stretch. It was a good team win,” Ohlin commented.

“We don’t play a lot of guys, we try to be very conditioned. I think maybe, in the end, we were just a little bit better condition, and that helped,” French remarked.
“It is a huge win. Going down the stretch we may win another league title so this is a big win for us,” Ohlin added.

Senior John Ritter led the Tigers in the scorebook with 14 points and 8 rebounds on the night with Ohlin and Drew Clark each gathering 13. Enyon was also in double digits with 10 points.

Despite the injury, Hillis had a game-high 21 points to pace the Devils, while Riley Miller netted 10. Hillis would also lead the Devils on the boards with 10 caroms.

Both teams return to action on Tuesday with Springfield hosting Jackson-Milton and Western Reserve traveling to Sebring.

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