Brookfield falls at Springfield | News, Sports, Jobs

Brookfield falls at Springfield | News, Sports, Jobs

Correspondent photo / Lowell Spencer
Springfield’s Ava Vecchione (22) tries to put up a shot against Brookfield’s Cailey Wellman.

NEW MIDDLETOWN – The Springfield Tigers may have graduated many key starters from last year, but they are proving early this year that they merely retool and not rebuild. They proved that point with an impressive 58-33 victory over the Brookfield Warriors on Thursday night to improve to 2-1.

“It is definitely different from last year,” Tigers junior Karigan Mullen remarked. “We are missing some big assets to the team, but I feel that everyone has just stepped up and has worked on their individual roles to make it cohesive. I think we are doing pretty well.”

“This is the first year since I’ve been here that we aren’t starting any underclassmen,” Tigers coach John Matisi remarked. “We are starting juniors and seniors, kids that have been with us for two years so walking into practice that first day, we didn’t have to explain anything or walk them through it. It is a big advantage for us.”

With the loss, the Warriors fell to 0-2 on the year. The Warriors have also experienced a big turnover from last year in both new players and a new head coach.

“We have improved a lot from last week,” Warriors head coach Tyler Kilbourne stated. “We had a good week of practice. I thought going into this game we practiced really well, and the girls are working hard. It’s just a lot of mental mistakes that we have to get through. Even though we have three seniors, only one of them has played much varsity.”

The Tigers were led by Mullen with a game-high 19 points while Mariana Tuscano scored 12. Mullen also led the Tigers with six rebounds.

Senior forward Cailey Wellman scored 14 points to pace the Warriors on the scoreboard. She also grabbed nine caroms to lead the Warriors on the boards.

Despite 91 points scored in the contest, the first quarter was a struggle for both teams as Wellman knocked down a jumper in the first two minutes of the contest. That would be the only basket the Warriors enjoyed during the opening period.

The Tigers would not score until the 2:25 mark of the opening frame when senior Ava Vecchione converted a layup to make it 2-2. Back-to-back baskets by Tuscano and a three by Mullen propelled the Tigers to a 9-2 lead at the close of the first quarter.

Following another trey by Mullen and two free throws by Vecchione at the 1:43 mark of the second frame, the Tigers held a commanding 20-8 advantage. They would take a 22-10 lead into the locker rooms at the intermission.

“For us to get up into our pressures and press, we have to score,” Matisi said with a laugh. “We didn’t score in the first four or five minutes. We couldn’t do the stuff we wanted to do. Until we got a couple of baskets to fall, then we got up and started to run a little bit.”

But it was in the second half that the Tiger defense and its opportunistic offense started to take charge of the contest. They would begin the second half with an 8-0 run to push their advantage to 18 points at 30-12. By the end of the frame, the Tigers held a 38-21 lead.

“I think coming out in the second half we started to get ourselves together and tried to hustle a little bit more. The most important thing we do is our defense. We try to make the other team freak out a little bit. Then that helps on the offensive side in getting steals and turnovers,” Mullen said.

The Tigers would once again go on a run to start the fourth frame as they raced out to a 10-0 run to boost their lead to 27 points at 48-21 by the 6:37 mark of the quarter. The Tigers would eventually reach a game-high 34-point advantage by the period’s midway point.

But the Warriors continued to battle to the final buzzer as they finished the contest with a 9-0 run to reach the final 25-point margin. They converted 7 of 11 free throws in the period to help power their late-game charge.

“I think our zone looked really good tonight. We put that in just two days ago and we worked on it for those two days. My main goal was to keep them off the scoreboard. For three quarters I think we held them in check pretty well,” Kilbourne said.

The Warriors will try to bounce back Monday when they travel to Hubbard. The Tigers will also return to the court Monday when they make the short trip up Route 170 to take on Poland.

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