Fink, Scheffler dominate in Tigers’ win over CHOF

Staff photos by Jeremy Behnke Springfield's Decker Scheffler goes to the basket in the Class A consolation semifinals against Christ's Household of Faith at Concordia College on Saturday morning. Springfield's Isaac Fink pulls down one of his 21 rebounds in the Class A consolation semifinals against Christ's Household of Faith at Concordia College. The Tigers won 95-73 to advance to Saturday morning’s consolation finals.

ST. PAUL — Up by 3 points at halftime, the Springfield boys’ basketball team went into the locker room feeling quite good about the first-half performance.

But after an 11-0 run to start the second half, they felt even better, and the Tigers clearly were playing their brand of basketball.

Springfield rode that early second-half momentum to a convincing 95-73 victory over Christ’s Household of Faith in the consolation bracket at Concordia University.

The Tigers will now play for fifth place at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Concordia.

While they struggled offensively in the quarterfinal loss to Spring Grove on Thursday, there were no struggles on Friday morning.

Decker Scheffler was dominant early, shaking off the flu symptoms he had experienced all week. He felt better physically and it showed, finishing with 25 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out nine assists.

He also had a big first half, leading all scorers with 15 points at that point and he credited his teammates for getting him the ball.

“I was feeling it, teammates were finding me when I was open so credit to them,” Scheffler said.

Isaac Fink, who will play in his final high school basketball game on Saturday, made sure that his team wasn’t going down on Friday. He got off to a slow start in the first half scoring-wise with 7 points, but he turned in a typical performance and then some He finished with 23 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists.

Mitchell Leonard was the recipient of many of those assists and he ran the floor well, finishing with 16 points and three rebounds. Mitchell Buerkle was in a groove too and he scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had eight assists.

“We were losing yesterday, we just had to get back to playing our basketball and the other team [Spring Grove] slowed it down,” Leonard said. “This game we made sure we played it at our game, this team wasn’t one that wanted to get out and do that so we wanted to get up.”

Leonard had back-to-back baskets early in the second half, including a 3-point play that gave the Tigers a 48-38 lead just barely 2 minutes into the half. He was open for easy baskets both times.

“I’m always the guy that goes back and we pushed it right away, I figured if I can get to the open spot, I can trust my guys to find me open, that’s what they did and I scored and it worked well,” Leonard said.

The Tigers later stretched the lead to 52-38 after Fink scored and got going offensively. With him going, it seemed CHOF didn’t stand a chance.

Scheffler continued his strong play in the second half and scored from inside to put the Tigers up 18 with just over 10 minutes left.

The Tigers continued to move the ball well, outscoring the Lions 54-35 in that second half.

Springfield shot 61 percent from the field in the game despite going 0 for 9 from 3-point range in that half. They were more physical inside, outrebounding the Lions 53-30.

For Leonard, it was a good feeling after Thursday’s tough loss.

“We wanted to make sure that we made a stand up here,” Leonard said. “Losing the first game, we wanted to win the next two for sure.”

Scheffler agreed.

“It’s nice to get that third day of playing, it wasn’t for sure going into that second game,” Scheffler said. “That second half was special after yesterday. The first half [on Friday] wasn’t all that special defensively, but we picked it up all the way around and it was good to see.”

As for Scheffler and the rest of the underclassmen, Saturday’s mission is simple — win one for the three seniors.

“It’s special, we woke up and said we wanted to play another night for the seniors, hopefully we can send them off with a smile tomorrow [Saturday],” Scheffler said.