Tigers set the pace in Salem

Salem’s Chase Ackerman tries to save the ball against Springfield on Tuesday.

SALEM–The Springfield Tigers opened the season with a new face courtside as Steve French made a victorious coaching debut on Tuesday night in Salem.

“I’m very proud of the kids tonight,” French said. “We’ve been working on our play style in the offseason and it was something the kids weren’t used to playing in the past.”

Springfield beat Salem 79-65 to open the season at Cabas Gymnasium.

“Our effort and intensity was the biggest thing,” French said. “We came out focused with great effort from start to finish.”

John Ritter had a big night for Springfield with 17 points.

“All the hard work we put in the offseason paid off tonight,” Ritter said. “We break from the huddle on Canton and we want to do the best we can this season.”

The Quakers drop their season opener and Salem coach Rich Hart hopes this serves as a wake up call.

“Springfield did a great job tonight executing,” Hart said. “They played harder than we did.”

Salem was only down 39-32 at halftime but Springfield took control in the third quarter when the Tigers outscored the Quakers 18-9.

The Quakers had a 8-0 run in the second quarter to make the game 33-28 but Springfield responded with a pair of three pointers from Drew Clark.

“We forced way too many tough shots tonight,” Hart said. “We didn’t reverse the ball tonight and we gave up too many offensive rebounds. These things can’t happen if you want to win.”

Salem’s leading scorer was Mitch Davidson with 29 points.

“Hopefully we watch film tomorrow and make some adjustments as we move on,” Hart said. “This game’s difficult, you have to execute and be fundamentally sound.”

Hart says the Quakers goal this season is to compete for a league championship and get to the district finals.

“We are a long way from that right now,” Hart said. “Can we get there? Yes, but we have to play better than we did tonight.”

All five starters for Springfield finished in double digits.

Springfield also saw strong performances from Clark with 18 points and Evan Ohlin with 16 points.

Also for Salem Seth Shivers had nine points including a pair of three-point shots while Chase Ackerman finished with 11 points.

Salem looks to turn it around as they open Northeastern Buckeye Conference play this Friday hosting Canton South before participating in the United Way Tournament at Poland against Niles on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get things right and quickly,” Hart said. “If we don’t, it could get ugly because those are good teams.”

Springfield will host Western Reserve to open Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference play on Friday.

French was enthusiastic after his first game at the helm of the Tigers.

“It’s a great community with great tradition,” French said. “It’s a pleasure to be here and we are going to have some fun this season.”

Game notes

¯Salem was originally schedueled to open the season last Friday at South Range but the game got moved to February 20th.

¯In jayvee action Salem beat Niles 53-36

For Salem, Josh Young had 16 points and Niko Walter had nine points.

For Springfield, Lukas Yemma had 12 points and Corey Halton had eight points.

SPRINGFIELD: 22-17-18-22–79

SALEM: 14-18-9-24–65

SPRINGFIELD SCORING: Evan Ohlin 6-3-16, Drew Clark 5-5-18, Brandon Walters 4-3-13, Clay Medvec 0-0-0, Shane Eynon 7-1-15, John Ritter 8-1-17. TEAM TOTALS: 30, 13-26:79

SALEM SCORING: Cade Campolito 1-0-2, Josh Young 0-0-0, Niko Walter 1-0-2, Seth Shivers 3-1-9, Turner Johnson 2-0-4, Braydon Gibson 1-0-2, Zach Bezon 0-2-2, Mitch Davidson 11-4-29, Bryce Owen 0-0-0, Robbie Sarginger 0-0-0, Josh Lehwald 0-2-2, Chase Ackerman 4-3-11, Trey Double 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 25, 12-15:65

Three-point goals: Springfield 6 (Clark 3, Walters 2, Ohlin 1), Salem 3 (Shivers 2, Davidson 1)