COLUMBIANA - The Lisbon boys basketball team got its confidence back just as Heartland Christian got its two strongest rebounders back.
The Blue Devils took control of the Lions in the second quarter and never looked back to a 66-47 victory Friday, ending a two-game losing streak.
The Blue Devils (16-4) were led by Austin Rutecki with 22 points. His three three-pointers in the second quarter helped the Blue Devils outscore the Lions 22-9, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
"This is a big win for us," Rutecki said. "We had to stay focused as a team and come out the way we did, and not argue about the two losses. We had to look ahead."
Rutecki referred to last Friday's fall to Springfield Local and to Rootstown, which had only won two games this season prior to facing the Blue Devils on Tuesday.
"Young kids these days, they look at records first, and they don't look at who they play or what they play," Lisbon coach Chris Huckshold said. "Rootstown's record may not be good, but they're playing all Division II teams, playing them close and they're a good team."
Huckshold still feels confident with high expectations for the sectional tournament, even as critics argue about the strength of the Inter-Tri County League upper tier.
"Going from league to non-league games is tough, but we've been able to do it," Huckshold said. "There's always going to be this debate about what tier is better. The way I look at it is you play the schedule given and go out and play your hardest, and the pundits can talk all day which league is better."
Avery Andric also contributed with 13 points and Josh Craig 12.
The Lions (12-7) started to take advantage early with scoring from Nathan Sommers and Glen Hoffman before running into trouble with turnovers courtesy of pressure from Blue Devil defense.
Hoffman scored a game-high 30 points, but coach Keith Tate was happier with the return of seniors Jared Robinson and Caleb House, back after recovering from injuries. Senior Durand Winnale's season, however, is over due to a broken wrist.
"Durand was one of our top shooters, and we've lost him for the year with a broken wrist which has been tough," Tate said. "It was really good to have them back after sitting out for three weeks."
With two games left before tournament time for the Lions, Tate looks to get Robinson and House stronger during practice.
"We've been trying to play other guys and have them learn the roles, and its tough with them not there," Tate said. "Now that they're back, we're looking to work hard with rebounding."
Injuries also affected the junior varsity game, forcing that game to be called off as Heartland did not have enough players.
The Blue Devils return home Tuesday to battle Sebring, while the Lions head to Mathews on Tuesday.
LISBON SCORING: Matt Spencer 4-0-10, Austin Davis 2-0-5, Josh Liberati 2-0-4, Austin Rutecki 8-1-22, Josh Craig 4-4-12, Avery Andric 5-0-13. TEAM TOTALS: 25, 5-6: 66
HEARTLAND SCORING: Matt Baker 0-0-0, Jared Robinson 0-0-0, Caleb House 3-1-8, Nathan Sommers 4-0-8, Glen Hoffman 9-7-30, Phil Bell 0-1-1. TEAM TOTALS: 16, 9-19: 47.
Three-point goals: Lisbon 11 (Rutecki 5, Andric 3, Spencer 2, Davis), Heartland 6 (Hoffman 5, House).