Tigers end long regional drought
CANTON — They’re at the threshold of a trip to Columbus.
The Springfield Local boys basketball team nailed down a date in Friday night’s D4 regional final with a 62-50 semifinal triumph over Greenwich South Central in a echo chamber better known as the Canton Fieldhouse Tuesday night.
“It’s awesome,” said Springfield coach Steve French. “We set out to win the district and this is icing on the cake right now and we’re just going to enjoy this one tonight.”
“My kids didn’t give up and they played hard, but I just thought that tonight for the first time in the tournament run, we got out-physicaled,” said South Central coach Brett Seidel, who led the Trojans to their first district title in 45 years.
A huge Springfield following watched the Tigers advance to a regional title game for the first time in 50 years.
The Tigers will play 11th-ranked Richmond Heights at 7 p.m. Friday at the Canton Fieldhouse for a regional crown and a trip to next week’s state tournament in Columbus. Richmond Heights earned its spot in the regional final with a 66-34 win over seventh-ranked Bristol in the opener of Tuesday’s regional doubleheader.
Springfield (21-5) won Tuesday’s game with an overwhelming performance inside, both scoring and rebounding against the smaller Trojans. The Tigers dominated the backboards, 44-19.
Tigers’ 6-foot-3 senior Shane Eynon and 6-foot-2 junior Drew Clark put on a clinic underneath. Eynon led all scorers with 24 points, 15 rebounds and one block, while Clark finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds and a blocked shot. Evan Ohlin also reached double figures for the Tigers with 13 points.
“I was just bigger than them, I guess,” said Eynon. “We saw a mismatch inside so they threw me the ball and I kept on going (scoring). In the first couple minutes we came out hot and we knew we could win this game.”
“He (Eynon) was fantastic,” said French. “He just goes inside under control. We wanted to attack (South Central) inside and Ethan did a good job of that “I also feel like Drew Clark almost got every rebound.”
“That was a man’s game inside there tonight and he really stepped up, that’s probably the best game he’s played this year.”
Leading 22-18 at halftime, the Tigers roared out of the halftime locker room and went on a 14-0 run at one point to take their largest lead of the night at 15 points (38-23) with 3:20 showing on the third-quarter clock. Eynon had seven points in the run.
South Central went on run of its own to close the deficit to 10 points (38-28) after three periods.
The Trojans drew as close as six points on two occasions in the fourth quarter, the last time coming as 42-36 with 5:41 left.
“We got it down to five or six and just couldn’t get over that hump,” said Seidel.
At that point, Springfield spurted again to seal the deal as the Tigers outscored the Trojans 20-14 in the remaining time to punch its ticket to the regional final and the Springfield fans soaked in every moment of it. Clark had eight points in the fourth quarter and Eynon added seven and Evan Ohlin six in the final frame.
“It was a game of men tonight and that’s the best game I’ve seen Clark play,” said Eynon. “He just kept on battling, getting rebounds.”
“We were a little surprised with how easy we got to the rim and we got back to it late and the layups were there,” said French.
Greenwich Central (21-5) was led by Isaiah Seidel with 18 points, while teammates Simon Blair and David Lamoreaux added 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Springfield, which had a decided height advantage over the Trojans, jumped out to a 12-4 lead following a fielder byEynon, who had 13 points and eight rebounds and a blocked shot at halftime.
“We wanted to come out in the first two minutes and establish the pace and we did a good job limiting them to one (shot) and I thought if we could do that our five could match up well,” said French.
The Tigers’ defense was successful in holding the Trojans scoreless for just under five minutes. But the Trojans slowly began to chip away at the Springfield advantage and trailed by just four points (12-8) after one period.
South Central tied the game twice in the second quarter at 12-12 and 13-13 but the Tigers outscored the Trojans 9-5 in the final 6:23 of the first half to hold a 22-18 advantage at halftime. Clark had five points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot in the first half and teamed up with Eynon to have a big first half. Eynon had 11 points at the break.
¯ The last time the Tigers won a regional game was in 1969 when they beat Badger in the regional semifinals. The year before the Tigers were state runner-up.
¯ This is Springfield’s third regional appearance in the 50 years since. The Tigers also won district titles in 2003 and 2012, but lost in the regional semifinals.
¯ Springfield sold 437 advance tickets for Tuesday’s game.
¯ South Central was making its first appearance in a regional boys basketball tournament in 45 years. The Trojans’ last district title occurred in 1974 when they defeated Mansfield St. Peters for a district title to advance to regional play.
SOUTH CENTRAL: 8-10-10-22-50
SPRINGFIELD : 12-10-16-24-62
SOUTH CENTRAL SCORING: Simon Blair 5-5-15, Alex Holland 1-0-2, David Lamoreaux 5-3-13, Isaiah Siedel 5-5-18, Tycen Cooper 0-0-0, Sam Seidel 1-0-2, Ethan Gifford 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 17, 13-17: 50.
SPRINGFIELD SCORING: Evan Ohlin 5-3-13, Drew Clark 5-2-13, Clay
Medvec 1-4-6, Shane Eynon 9-6-24, Beau Brungard 0-2-2, Adam Wharry
2-0-4, Garrett Stallsmith 0-0-0, RJ Smith 0-0-0, Mason Santangelo
0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 21 17-21 62
Three-point goals — South Central — 3 (Isaiah Seidel 3), Springfield 1 (Drew Clark 1).
BRISTOL 8- 7- 6-13–34
R. HEIGHTS: 12-20-23-11–66
BRISTOL SCORING: Gage Erza 4-0-9, Damion Durst 2-0-5, Matt Stephens
2-0-4, Mike Wiebe 1-0-2, Matt Chruch 4-2-10, Seth Mooney 2-1-5, Nick Church 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 14 4-4 34.
RICHMOND HEIGHTS SCORING: Curtis Houston 2-1-5, JeVontae Jones 6-3-15, Gbolaahan Adio 1-3-5, Anthony Maxie 5-2-12, Jamarr Talbert Jr. 5-2-11, BJ Carter 3-2-10, Torres Hickerson 1-0-3, Isaiah Martin 2-0-5. TEAM TOTALS: 26, 9-13:-66.
Three-point goals: Richmond Heights — 6 (BJ Carter 2, Gbolahan Adio 1, Jamarr Talbert Jr. 1, Torres Hickerson 1, Isiah Martin 1); Bristol — 2 (Gage Erza 1, Damion Durst 1).