SHARPSVILLE — According to the purists, offense wins ballgames and defense wins championships. Unfortunately for Tri-Central’s boys basketball team, neither was sufficient here Saturday afternoon as a visiting Manchester Squire club held off a late challenge to take a 46-41 victory.
The Trojans’ defense was good enough to win most contests, but they were again victimized by their inability to generate offense and hit shots when they needed them.
The Squires’ offense was just sufficient enough to hold off TC (4-7), but it was an almost invisible Trojan first-half offense that played a huge role in the defeat.
Winning for the ninth time in 13 contests, the Squires shackled the Trojans to an anemic, 14-point first half in which TC hit just 3 of 13 shots. The Squires upped their first-period 12-7 lead to 29-14 at halftime with a 13-6 run and appeared safely away with a gaudy 34-18 spread early in the third quarter.
But it took a more attentive Squire defense and a few missed Trojan opportunities down the stretch for Manchester to survive. TC managed a mere 32 shots in the contest, hit just 12 of those and hurt its own cause on 15-of-22 free throw shooting — six of those misses coming in the first half.
The Squires weren’t exactly explosive with 15 baskets in 40 attempts but six of those fielders were 3-pointers and they canned 9 of 12 tries at the charity stripe.
“Our problem was not our defense, it has been solid all year,” TC coach Kyle Zahn said. “We’re just having a hard time finding points and hitting shots. We did a better job in the second half with more movement, but if we would’ve made our free throws we would’ve been right there.
“Manchester’s defense wouldn’t let us get inside or get into our offense. We worked this week in practice of attacking the seam, but it still gets down to knocking down shots,” he added.