Springfield storms past Lowellville for district title

STRUTHERS — It’s what high school basketball is all about.

Top-seeded Springfield Local and third-seeded Lowellville treated fans at a packed Struthers Fieldhouse to a classic D4 district championship game here Friday night.

The two schools, who split their two regular-season match-ups, hooked up in a third and deciding game which had more twists and turns than a Cedar Point roller-coaster. But when the wild ride ended, it was Springfield Local which emerged with a 58-48 decision over the Rockets and a trip to next week’s regional tournament.

“It (the win) is right up there,” beamed Springfield Local head coach Steve French. “That was pretty wild, but we’re glad to be on the right side of it.”

“It’s a tough one right now,” said Lowellville head coach Matt Olson.

The win vaults Springfield Local (20-5) into next week’s D4 Canton regional. The Tigers will play Greenwich South Central in a regional semifinal Tuesday at 8 p.m at the Canton Fieldhouse. South Central earned its regional berth with a 48-37 win over Colonel Crawford Friday night.

Springfield Local will be making its fifth trip to the regional and first since 2012.

“It’s fantastic,” added French. “It’s a great feeling and this was our goal from back in June. Just really proud of all the guys. It was two small towns and great high school basketball.”

Lowellville bows out with a 17-7 record.

In a game that saw a combined 15 three-pointers, including eight by the Tigers and seven by the Rockets, Springfield was paced by 6-3 inside man Shane Eynon with 20 points, while teammates Evan Ohlin and Beau Brungard finished with 13 markers apiece. Ohlin led the Tigers with a trio of three-pointers, while Brungard added two treys and Adam Wharry and Clay Medvec had one triple each.

“It’s great,” said Springfield Local’s Shane Eynon who had five big fourth-quarter points for the Tigers. “That (getting to the regional) was our goal and we break (the huddle) with ‘Canton’ and we started with that at the beginning of the year and have stuck with it ever since. It was a great game and now we have to keep going.”

Eynon, a 6-3 senior, likes to lead by example.

“I’m a senior and I just knew I had to take charge out there,” said Eynon. “I know I have to lead by example on and off the court.”

French said a key was getting the ball inside to Eynon.

“The high post was open all game and we told him (Eynon) to just get up there and give us a target and we’ll get you the ball and he attacked the zone well. We felt that the middle of their (the Rockets’) zone was open and we wanted to attack it because they don’t have a deep bench, they only play six kids, so if we could get into that bench it was going to be a positive for us.”

Lowellville was paced by long-range sharpshooter Micah Mamula-Zarlingo with 12 points, while Jake Rotz had 11, Cole Bunofsky had 10 and Dylan Durkin finished with eight markers. Mamula-Zarlingo had three of the Rockets’ seven three-pointers.

With the hotly-contested game tied at 22-22 at halftime, Lowellville went on an 18-3 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 40-25 lead over the Tigers following a hoop by the Rockets’ Bunofsky with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.

But Lowellville senior guard Matt Hvisdak fouled out with 1:03 left in the third period and it was Springfield’s turn to engineer a run of its own. The Tigers went on a 13-0 scoring spree in a little over a two-minute span to close out the quarter only down two points (40-38) to the Rockets.

“That (losing Hvisdak) was definitely a turning point in the game,” said Lowellville’s Olson. “We felt like we kind of earned this one and it was taken away from us. I feel bad for the seniors because they earned this and they made me and the community proud.”

“We got them in foul trouble early and just continued to attack,” said

Springfield Local’s French.

The trend continued in the fourth quarter as Springfield Local took the lead for good at 43-42 following a three-pointer with just over seven minutes remaining and went on to outscore the Rockets 20-8 in the fourth quarter to advance to Canton. Lowellville lost a second starter to five fouls when 6-4 Jake Rotz fouled out with 2:30 left.

French said his team never panicked when they were facing a large deficit in the third quarter.

“The first time we played them we were down 20-5 and we came back and won in overtime so we had been there before and we just wanted to keep going,” he explained. “We were emotionally stable and just had to keep fighting.”

In a low-scoring, defensive-minded first half, there were three lead changes and seven ties, the last coming at halftime (22-22).

Lowellville, which led 12-10 after one quarter, saw its biggest first-half lead at four points (7-3) midway through the first quarter, while Springfield Local’s largest first-half advantage was three points (20-17) with 2:06 showing before intermission.

LOWELLVILLE: 12-10-18-8-48

SPRINGFIELD: 10-12-16-20-58

LOWELLVILLE SCORING: Micah Mamula-Zarlingo 4-1-12, Matt Hvisdak 2-1-5, Jake Rotz 5-1-11, Cole Bunofsky 4-1-10, Joe Ballone 1-0-2, Dylan Durkin 3-0-8, John Loshuk 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 19 3-5 48.

SPRINGFIELD LOCAL SCORING: Evan Ohlin 4-2-13, Drew Clark 2-0-4, Lucas Yemma 0-0-0, Clay Medvec 1-1-4, Shane Eynon 8-4-20, Beau Brungard 4-3-13, Adam Wharry 1-1-4. TEAM TOTALS: 20 11-20 58

Three-point goals: Lowellville 8 (Micah Mamula-Zarlingo 3, Dylan Durkin 2, Matt Hvisdak 1, Cole Bunofsky 1, Joe Ballone 1), Springfield Local 7 (Evan Ohlin 3, Beau Brungard 2, Adam Wharry 1, Clay Medvec 1)