Springdale boys get defensive in victory over Leechburg

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | 12:16 AM

After a somewhat lacking late-December defensive performance, Springdale re-emphasized that part of its game in practice.

The performance on that end of the court since indicates the benefit of that extra work.

The Dynamos dialed up their defense again Tuesday night, stifling visiting Leechburg for a 57-45 victory in a Section 1-2A boys basketball game. The Dynamos forced the Blue Devils into turnovers, beat them to loose balls and held them without a field goal in the third quarter to pull away.

“We came out with a lot of energy tonight, and we were fired up,” Springdale freshman Demitri Fritch said. “We wanted this win.”

Springdale won for the third time in four games, evening its section record in the process. After yielding 80 points in back-to-back games against Jeannette and St. Joseph — the former a loss, the latter a victory — the Dynamos (6-4, 2-2) have allowed 48 points per game in their past three contests.

“We've kind of re-shifted our focus in practice to playing good defense,” Springdale coach Seth Thompson said. “That's what we've done the past two games. Yeah, we scored more points here tonight, but a lot of those points I thought were created by defense. And that's why we won the game.”

After an up-and-down first quarter ended with the teams deadlocked at 17, Springdale's defense began to assert itself.

The Dynamos clamped down on Leechburg, holding the Blue Devils (7-3, 2-2) to one 3-pointer after halftime after they connected on five in the first half.

Leechburg went more than 10 minutes without a field goal between Anthony Mangee's corner 3 late in the second quarter and Tyler Leech's layup early in the fourth.

“I thought that we got outhustled tonight; it's as simple as that,” Leechburg coach Corey Smith said. “When you get outworked, it's never going to work. When you get outhustled, you get outrebounded — they're a smaller team than us, and they just flat-out came to play.”

Springdale turned a 32-27 halftime lead into a 43-30 advantage heading into the fourth quarter by holding Leechburg to three free throws and converting just enough on offense. The Dynamos' lead grew to as many as 19 points in the fourth, and Leechburg could get no closer than 11.

“We couldn't come out soft because we knew Leechburg was going to come out strong, pressing us, and really up the energy,” Fritch said. “We had to do it, too.”

Christian Hack scored 16 points, hitting four 3-pointers, for Leechburg, which slipped into a third-place tie with Springdale heading into Saturday's home game against section leader Jeannette (6-1, 3-0)

“We can't hang our heads,” Smith said. “We've got our next two section games against Jeannette and Serra Catholic, the top two teams in the section. We've got to move on.”

Fritch led three Springdale players in double figures with a career-high 20 points. Dylan Zezza added 11 and Mike Zolnierczyk scored 10.

Springdale faces a rematch with Serra Catholic (9-2, 3-1) on Friday; the Eagles beat the Dynamos in late December at the St. Joseph holiday tournament.

“Every win you get in this section, you've got to really cherish it,” Thompson said. “You've got to really relish it because they're hard to come by.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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