LISBON - Lisbon's boys basketball team might be setting the stage for bigger and better things in the future this season.
That doesn't mean the Devils aren't making some Inter-Tri County League upper tier teams sweat in the present.
ITCL upper tier leaders Springfield got a taste of what the young Devils have to offer as the Tigers saw an 18-point lead erode to four with less than a minute to play. The experience-gap wasn't enough for Lisbon to overcome, however, as Springfield held on 47-42.
"They're looking ahead to the future," Springfield coach Eric Fender said. "They're taking their lumps now, but you have to tip your hat to them. They played a heck of a game and really gave us a lot of problems doing what we do."
The Tigers snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 7-2 and 6-0 in the Inter-Tri County League upper tier. Lisbon is 5-5 and 3-3 in the ITCL upper tier.
Springfield opened the game by jumping out to a 26-8 lead about midway through the second quarter. The Tigers successfully employed an aggressive press which forced Lisbon into nine turnovers in the first quarter and six in the second quarter.
The Tigers weren't as sharp on the offensive end as they turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter and four in the second quarter. On top of that Springfield was 3 of 15 from the field in the second quarter.
"Anytime you run into a zone defense and are forced to play from the perimeter, it's going to be tough for a team like us that relies on the three," Fender said. "We have to hope we make them. If we don't, we have to find other to score."
Springfield had to rely on the free throw line the rest of the way to escape with the win. The Tigers were 21 of 25 from the line with three of the misses coming in the fourth quarter.
"We wanted to get to the free throw line," Fender said. "Two games ago (against Poland) we didn't go to the free throw line at all. That's not a good thing."
Lisbon snapped out of its funk late in the second quarter with a flurry of points to put the halftime deficit at 10. After that things came together and Lisbon looked as if a win might not be out of the question.
"We probably won about three quarters of the game," Lisbon coach Chris Huckshold said. "But our youth is still working on playing an entire 32 minute basketball game. Tonight we played about 26 minutes."
Huckshold said it took his team a bit too long to figure out how to break the press successfully.
"At times we look at things and it takes us longer to analyze situations because of our experience level," Huckshold said.
Huckshold said he made one simple adjustment on the press breaker and it took a while for things to click. Once it did, the turnovers plummeted from 15 in the first half to two in the second half.
"(Lisbon was) blind-sided and not worrying about getting down," Fender said. "They went out and played really good basketball in the second half."
Freshman post player Austin Rutecki led the Devils with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman forward Josh Craig added 10 points and 12 boards. Freshman point guard Josh Liberati chipped in seven points and six assists.
Sophomore forward Mark Schuler scored 16 to lead the Tigers. Eoghan Bees made only two field goals, but ended up with 15 points. Jared McTigue had 10 points including a shot at the buzzer to end the third period to push a narrow Springfield lead to 36-29.
"We expect that of Jared," Fender said. "Being a senior and having experience, we have to rely on guys like him."
Lisbon cut the lead to 43-39 with 40 seconds to play on a bucket by Craig, but Bees made four straight free throws after that to sock away the win.
Springfield is at Jackson-Milton on Friday. The Bluejays are winless in the league. Lisbon is at Crestview on Friday.
SPRINGFIELD: 15-13- 8-11-47
SPRINGFIELD SCORING: Eoghan Bees 2-10-15, Alex Wharry 1-1-4, Jared McTigue 4-2-10, Joe Carabello 0-0-0, Joe Wrask 0-0-0, Jake Ohlin 0-0-0, Mark Schuler 5-6-16, Brandon Chamberlain 0-2-2. TEAM TOTALS: 12-46, 21-25: 47.
LISBON SCORING: Matt Spencer 1-0-2, Eric Walker 1-0-2, Corey Brammer 1-0-3, Josh Craig 4-2-10, Austin Rutecki 4-4-12, Avery Andric 2-0-6, Josh Liberati 3-0-7. TEAM TOTALS: 16-46, 6-11: 42.
Three-point goals: Springfield 2 (Bees, Wharry), Lisbon 4 (Andric 2, Liberati, Brammer).