|
|
The Suburbanite
  • Spartans notch four in a row, take LCCS in road win

  • It won’t earn the Springfield Spartans’ boys basketball team any style points and it did earn them plenty of boos, but a 38-34 road win against Lake Center Christian heading into Christmas break lands in the “W” column all the same.

    • email print
  • It won’t earn the Springfield Spartans’ boys basketball team any style points and it did earn them plenty of boos, but a 38-34 road win against Lake Center Christian heading into Christmas break lands in the “W” column all the same.
    “I was a little disappointed, but I give Lake Center Christian credit because they did some good things and we didn’t play well,” Springfield coach Steve Shaffer said. “We’ve got a lot of new players who weren't here last year, and we’re trying to put it together and learn about each other.”
    In a physical game that featured the Spartans (5-3) holding the ball on offense for the final 2:37 of the second quarter and receiving a few boos at the sight of junior point guard Jake Kitchen holding the ball near midcourt for more than a minute, a furious late-game rally by LCCS came up just short.
    The Tigers (3-3) nearly snatched victory away from their guests as Springfield went 2-of-10 from the free-throw line in the final minute, leaving the door open.
    “That’s a big concern,” Shaffer said. “Against Mogadore, we shot 70 percent from the line and made a lot of clutch free throws. That’s something we have to get better at in order to be able to close the door on good teams.”
    Springfield shot 37 percent (10-of-27) from the line.
    Transition layups by Alex Armstrong and Scott Hefty helped pull LCCS within three, 37-34, but Springfield’s Jon Hariharan extended the lead to four by making 1-of-2 at the line. On the ensuing possession, Armstrong’s 3-point attempt came up just short.
    Senior forward Trevor Rainieri grabbed the rebound and put up a shot, but what appeared to be a foul on the attempt went uncalled, and Springfield grabbed the rebound.
    “The referees allowed the game to get really physical, especially in the back court,” LCCS coach Eric Schlabach said.
    For much of the second half, it appeared the Spartans would pull away for a big win. After struggling early in the game and going scoreless for the final six minutes of the first quarter to trail 6-5, the Spartans found their footing in the second quarter behind the efforts of Kitchen and 6-foot-7 junior forward Victor Dorsey.
    Dorsey led the Spartans with 11 points, two steals and two blocked shots, and Kitchen chipped in with 10 points and three steals.
    The duo tallied nine of Springfield’s 16 points in the opening half en route to a 16-9 halftime lead. Despite standing two inches taller than anyone else on the court, Dorsey spent most of the game on the perimeter and attempted four 3-pointers on the night, making one.
    The pace was grinding all game long, and LCCS struggled in both the half court and against Springfield’s pressure. Even when they got the ball up the court, the Spartans’ length posed problems. In the second half, Shaffer utilized more full-court pressure and the Spartans caused several turnovers with the press.
    Page 2 of 2 -  All five Springfield starters were 6 feet tall or taller, making them one of the rare teams to have a size edge on LCCS.
    “They’re long and they’re athletic, and even though we were able to get the ball inside early, we weren’t able to finish,” Schlabach said. “And I think their length had a lot to do with that.”
    With the Spartans up 16-8 and just under three minutes left in the half, Shaffer had his team hold the ball out near midcourt. Kitchen held it on his hip, occasionally passing it off to Hariharan. Boos  didn’t deter the Spartans, and the Tigers elected to wait it out rather than extend defense and force action.
    “We were struggling so much offensively ... if we could get to the locker room down eight and we actually ended up getting it to seven, we were OK with that,” Schlabach said.
    Coming out of the locker room after the half, the pace resumed a somewhat normal speed, and 3-pointers from Dorsey and Hariharan allowed the Spartans to begin the third quarter on a 10-4 run that put them up 26-13. A 3-pointer by Hefty broke the drought for LCCS, but the Tigers never edged closer than seven points until the final minute, always suffering a key turnover or just missing when they had a chance to cut the deficit.
    Armstrong and Rainieri led LCCS with nine points each and the Tigers maintained a 32-24 edge in the rebounding battle despite their size disadvantage.
    Springfield has now won four in a row and their five wins are one more than the team had last season. Style points or not, Shaffer knows victories are significant for a program that has not had a lot of success in recent years and is still working to integrate new pieces such as Dorsey and former LCCS forward Colin Floyd into the mix.
    “This is four in a row and that’s something Springfield basketball hasn’t done in a while,” Shaffer said. “We’re proud of the kids. They played hard and they’ve done what we’ve asked of them for the most part. Four wins in a row, it’s good to do that.”