LISBON - Lisbon's varsity basketball team might be the youngest in Tier 1 of the Inter-Tri County League this season.
Just don't call them inexperienced.
Starting three freshman and playing one more frosh significantly, the Devils are using a bevy of players accustomed to a year-round hoops schedule to get off on the right foot this season.
On Friday, freshman forward Josh Craig scored 25 points off the bench to lead the Devils over rival United 76-54 in the league opener for both schools.
"All of these freshman play 12 months out of the year," Lisbon coach Chris Huckshold said. "We also kept them really busy in June getting them ready to be thrown into the fire."
Huckshold, in his fourth season as the Devils' coach, said this is his best start through three games (2-1) and he's cautiously optimistic things will be better this season.
UNITED: 19 6 11 17-54
LISBON: 17 16 19 24-76
UNITED SCORING: Paul Faulkner 3-1-7, Brandon Miller 2-0-5, Caleb Berdine 0-0-0, Garrett Beech 2-1-5, Cody Dickens 1-0-2, Andrew Martin 3-2-8, Jared Powell 1-0-2, Caleb Conser 3-3-9, Braden Davison 7-2-16, Tyler Plummer 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 22-54, 9-15, 54.
LISBON SCORING: Corey Brammer 1-2-5, Matt Spencer 5-0-10, Eric Walker 4-0-9, Josh Liberati 3-0-8, Austin Rutecki 4-0-9, Avery Andric 4-0-10, Josh Craig 10-5-25, Trevor Reese 0-0-0, Jared Merriman 0-0-0, J.J. Crow 0-0-0, Mike Evans 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 31-69, 7-9, 76.
THREE POINTERS:: United 1 (Miller), Lisbon 7 (Andric 2, Liberati 2, Walker, Rutecki).
"The whole team is basically new," Huckshold said. "We have one returning letterwinner (junior Matt Spencer). The rest are new to varsity, but they're growing up quick."
Spencer, the most experienced of the bunch, had 10 points and 15 rebounds against an Eagles' team that has lost 28 of their last 29 on the road. Freshman point guard Josh Liberati added eight points and nine assists. Freshman post Austin Rutecki chipped in nine points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Avery Andric also got into the act with 10 points.
"We've had three games so far and three different leading scorers," Huckshold said. "Any of our first seven has the ability to lead on any given night."
Craig, who was at Heartland Christian last year, said he's enjoying playing ball with his class once again.
"I last played with them in sixth grade, but we've still been close friends," Craig said. "It's just as fun as it was then."
Craig said he doesn't remember scoring that many points in a game at any level, but he did credit his success to those around him.
"The guards did their jobs and passed really well," Craig said.
Craig scored 10 of his points in the second quarter to help the Devils out to a comfortable eight-point lead at halftime. After that the young Devils kicked it up a notch and had no trouble pulling away from the Eagles (0-3).
"We didn't show up defensively," United coach Matt Mowery said. "We gave them too many layups and didn't stop them off the dribble. If you don't play defense, you're not going to win games."
Mowery said he wasn't surprised to see Lisbon's freshman do well.
"They've won at every level so far," Mowery said. "They know how to win."
Braden Davison had 16 points to lead the Eagles. Paul Faulkner added seven points and 12 boards.
Lisbon hosts Mineral Ridge on Tuesday, while United concludes its four-game road trip to start the season at East Palestine.
United won the jayvee game 64-20. Caleb Berdine had 18 points for the winners. Ben Sell added 15 points. Mike Evans scored five points for Lisbon.