SALINEVILLE - Defense made a diffence for the Springfield boys basketball team.
Slow at the beginning but picking up steam, the Tigers controlled Southern Local throughout the entire game and knocked out the Indians 46-32 in an Inter-Tri County League upper tier action on Friday.
The Tigers (5-2, 5-0) continue to be a contender in the league with solid shooting from Graham Mincher who led the Tigers with 20 points.
"We just had to stay consistent on offense and hold them on defense," Mincher said.
Mincher's strong 14-point second half performance helped the Tigers shake off a rough first half due to strong defenses from both sides.
The Tigers started to dominate in the first quarter, leading 12-2 after the first quarter, but made mistakes throughout the second quarter on offense as the Indians attempted to catch up.
"By the half, they (Southern) were making a run offensively," Mincher said. "We had to slow it down as we had a good lead."
With strong defense inside the paint by the Indians, the Tigers led 19-9 by halftime, considerably low for the team's standards, including for Tigers coach Eric Fender.
"Our offense needs to improve," Fender said. "We had opportunities to score and just faltered. We were up by 10 at the half, but just scoring 19 at halftime, for us that's low."
Mincher also agreed that with a low scoring first half, work needed done in the second.
"Offensively, we only scored 19 points, which that's pretty low," Mincher said. "So we tried to score more points in the second half to give us a cushion for the fourth quarter."
The team got that cushion as they picked up steam in the second half, and along with Mincher, the Tigers got help from Mark Schuler, who scored nine points, and Ryan Kohler, who hit for six.
Inconsistent and flustered, the offense of the Indians (3-2, 3-2) also faltered in the first half as many fouls and miscommunication hurt the team, so much to the point that the only Indians score in the first quarter came from a Tim Thrasher layup.
"We ended up losing four starters last year, and we still have a young team," Southern coach George Whittaker said. "They'll continue to learn and improve, but still you can't give up 30 turnovers in the game."
Just like the Tigers' offense, the Indians' offense got better as the second half progressed with scoring from Jared Shilot, who led with nine points and eight rebounds, and Troy Holden, scoring six points with five rebounds.
The junior varsity game provided a little higher scoring action with Southern taking the win 49-36.
Aron Sevek led the Indians with 14 points while Jordan Capuzello shot for nine for the Tigers.
Both teams return to action on Monday as Springfield travels to West Branch and Southern hosts Edison.
SPRINGFIELD SCORING: Jake Ohlin 1-2-4, Mark Schuler 2-5-9, Graham Mincher 7-4-20, Hunter Snyder 0-2-2, Brandon Chamberlain 1-0-2, Nate Simboli 0-0-0, Joe Wrask 1-0-2, Jared Musial 0-1-1, Ryan Kohler 2-2-6, Jordan Peterson 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 14, 16-26: 46
SOUTHERN SCORING: Troy Holden 3-0-6, M.J. Williams 1-1-3, Tim Thrasher 1-0-2, Caleb Gotschall 0-0-0, Jared Shilot 3-1-9, Andrew Russell 0-0-0, Michael Shope 1-0-2, Josh Brown 2-0-6, Christian Adkins 1-0-2, Dakota Wetzel 0-0-0, Aron Sever 0-0-0, Jaret Pouling 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 14, 2-7: 32
Three-point goals: Springfield 2 (Mincher 2), Southern 4 (Shilot 2, Brown 2).