LISBON-The Lisbon Blue Devils have spent most of the season taking their opponents' best shot. Friday night was not different.
The United Eagles came in near the bottom of the Inter-Tri County League upper tier standings, but stayed in contact with the first place Blue Devils for most the night, but Lisbon was able to stay a few steps ahead and come out with a 49-37 win at Lisbon High School.
The Blue Devils improve to 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the ITCL upper tier. United drops to 3-10 and 2-7.
"With being tied for first place we are going to have a target on our backs every night," Lisbon guard Avery Andric said. "Everybody is going to be coming at us and we have to be ready every night. United made us work for it."
All five of Lisbon's starters are capable of going on a hot shooting stretch and Friday it was Andric's turn. The sophomore was connected on three three-pointers and led Lisbon with 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals. His biggest contributions came in the second half. With Lisbon holding onto a 21-17 lead entering the third quarter, Andric made a layup and was fouled, then knocked down a three in the first minute to widen the lead to 27-19.
"United came out and challenged us defensively and our shots weren't falling in the first half," Andric said. "After the break we started passing the ball more and got some better looks."
"Lisbon has a lot of firepower on offense," United coach Matt Mowery said. "You can limit one or two of them but someone else is going to burn you. Tonight Andric was the hot hand."
United kept hanging around and opened the fourth on a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 39-32, but Andric answered right back with another three to push the margin to ten with five minutes to go. Lisbon led by double digits the rest of the way.
"Avery's a shooter," Lisbon coach Chris Huckshold said. "There is no doubt he is going to look for his shot. I think he picked the right times in the second half to pull the trigger and it gave us a lift. There were a couple of times the game was teetering and he gave us some room."
Also for Lisbon, forward Austin Rutecki had 10 points and 11 rebounds and point guard Josh Liberati had 11 points and six assists. Both had only two points at halftime but broke loose in the third quarter when the Blue Devils built an 11 point lead. The key lay in increased ball movement.
"All five of our kids like to shoot the ball and that's good, it's hard to push kids to shoot," Huckshold said. "We are trying to get them to realize that one extra pass can lead to an open shot, two extra can lead to a wide open one. When we get to that point that's when it's good basketball."
The Eagles did their best to frustrate the Blue Devils. United came out playing solid team defense and battling for rebounds. Freshman guard Jake Clark came off the bench and gave the Blue Devils a lift in the first half, finishing with 10 points. Sophomore guard Caleb Berdine found success driving the basketball and had a big third quarter to keep the Eagles within range. he finished with 17 points. The Eagles were tied with the Blue Devils as late as a minute to go in the second quarter.
"Our defense and rebounding have been getting a lot better," Mowery said. "We were really trying to keep the ball in front of us and we did a nice job of rotating and helping each other out."
Lisbon won the jayvee game 41-28. Colin Sweeney had nine points for Lisbon. Hayden Wilson had 11 for the Eagles.
Lisbon beat United 64-42 in the first meeting, but the Eagles have been playing better basketball of late, losing by only eight to third-place Southern on Tuesday.
"We've been making strides the last couple of games," Mowery said. "To play the best team in the league for 32 minutes on the road says a lot."
The Eagles upset Lisbon 49-45 at Lisbon last season. One of two wins on the year for United. Most of the players on the floor participated.
"It was the same scenario as tonight" Huckshold said. "They slowed the game to their tempo and made some shots at the end."
UNITED SCORING: Tanner Curfman 0-1-1, Caleb Berdine 5-5-17, Jake Clark 4-0-10, Matt Blake 0-0-0, Coltan Antram 0-0-0, Caleb Conser 4-0-8, Braden Davison 0-2-2, Eric Blosser 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 13, 7-13: 37.
LISBON SCORING: Matt Spencer 4-0-8, Josh Liberati 4-3-11, Austin Rutecki 3-4-10, Josh Craig 2-0-4, Avery Andric 6-1-16. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 8-15: 49.
Three-point goals: United 4 (Berdine 2, Clark 2), Lisbon 3 (Andric 3).