LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – The Springfield Tigers quartet of seniors proved to be the difference in Tigers hard-fought 58-54 victory in an MVAC first-place battle with the Lowellville Rockets.  But in addition to the Tigers seniors leading them to victory, it was sophomore who proved to be the final piece that won the game.

“Our senior leadership was really the key down the stretch,” Tigers coach Jeff Brink remarked.  “We have four guys averaging double-digits this season, all those guys contributed.”

The Tigers Sean Guerriero stepped to the free-throw line with just 22-seconds remaining with the Tigers clinging to a narrow 56-54 lead.  Guerriero blocked out the raucous home crowd and sank both free throws to seal the victory.

“I can’t say enough about Sean Guerriero going to the line and making that front end of a one-and-one there.  That was massively important,” Brink exclaimed.

“It was crazy,” Guerriero claimed.  “We were all tired, but we somehow found something left in the tank and managed to come through and get the win.”

The Tigers improve to 4-0 on the season, 3-0 in the MVAC.  The Rockets suffer their first loss as they fall to 6-1 on the year, 2-1 in the league.

Adam Wharry led the Tigers with 22 points on the night including three treys.  Beau Brungard would also score in double-digits with 12 points in the game.

“That was a great high school basketball game,” Brink stated.  “We have a ton of respect for that Lowellville Rocket team and coach Olson.  We knew it was going to be a dog fight.  We told our guys that it was going to be a battle.  It was crucial to get this win early in the year.”

The game saw numerous lead changes and momentum swings as the Rockets grabbed an early lead and held the advantage at 11-9 at the end of the first quarter.  But the Tigers would go on a 7-3 run to start the second period and grabbed their first lead at 16-14 with 5:06 left in the frame when Wharry hit his first three.

The Tigers would lead by 8 at 23-15 before the Rockets responded with a 12-5 to take back the lead at 27-25 with only 34-second remaining in the first half.  But Brungard would connect on a half-court shot at the buzzer to give the Tigers a 30-27 lead at intermission.

“Against a good team like Springfield, in the first half I thought we played really good on defense, but then we didn’t do a good job of boxing out.  A ton of their points came from second and third chances,” Rockets coach Matt Olson explained.

The Tigers would build a game-high 10-point advantage with a 10-3 run to start the second half when Wharry connect on his third trey with 2:48 left in the third period.  But once again the Rockets responded with a 13-2 run to close the quarter powered by two threes by Brady Bunofsky.  That made it 43-42 in favor of the Rockets at the end of the third period.

The Rockets Anthony Lucente hit a three to start the fourth stanza to stake the Rockets to a 46-42 lead, but that is when the Tigers made a game-changing charge.  They would go on an 8-0 run to hold a 50-46 lead with 4:40 remaining in the game.  The Rockets Vinny Ballone would hit a three with 2:07 left to make it 54-52, then he would hit a jumper with 1:12 left to tie the game at 54, setting up the winning in the final minute.

Lucente would lead the Rockets with 15 points in the game, including three treys.  Ballone would add 12 points, and Kyle Miller connected on three, three-pointers in the contest.

“We both have a lot of talent as far as kids and depth-wise,” Olson remarked.  “A lot of people will point to this game as far as league standings.  It was no secret, but we didn’t really talk about it.  We were right there in the end, but the ball just didn’t bounce our way a couple of times.”