SEBRING - The Heartland Lions' roar was reduced to whimper Tuesday night at Sebring as the Trojans cruised to a 69-47 victory.
Sebring jumped out to a 20-point lead at the half and never looked back, leading by as much as 30 in the third. On the defensive end, the Trojans allowed the Lions just 27 points through the first three quarters, including a mere five in the third.
"We really concentrated on defense tonight," Sebring coach Mark Baia said. "Last week at Wellsville we didn't do a good job defensively and gave up some easy buckets in the fourth. Tonight, we did a good job of rotating and we boxed out well."
The Trojans took an 18-12 lead after one quarter. Mitch Baddley opened up with a 3-pointer - his first of three on the night - and added another bucket to lead the Lions' first-quarter efforts.
Heartland's Jared Robinson scored 10 of his team's 12 points in the opening frame. The sophomore would finish with a game-high 21 points.
"Jared is going to be a very good basketball player," Heartland Christian coach Josh Osborn said. "He's only a sophomore and he's going to get bigger and stronger. He's scored double digits in three of our last four games. He has really found his groove lately. I look forward to the next few years with Jared at Heartland."
After dropping in five buckets in the first quarter, Robinson was held to just two free throws in the second as Sebring surged ahead. In that quarter, it was the Trojan's big man Dakota Wagner who stepped up with eight points. Josh Hurford added six with two 3-pointers as Sebring outdid the Lions 24-10 to lead 42-22 at the break.
Things didn't get any better for Heartland in the second half. The Lions committed six-straight turnovers on their first sixth possessions of the third. The Trojans were able to take advantage and put more distance between themselves and the Lions. Baddeley scored eight points in the third, including two more 3-pointers.
Heartland didn't score a third-quarter bucket until Robinson put in a jumper at 3:46.
"We're an extremely young team," Osborn said. "I start three freshmen and three sophomores. We're just learning. We had some trouble in the second and third quarters, but I can't fault our effort tonight. Our kids kept playing."
The Lions had their best scoring period of the night in the fourth. They outscored Sebring 20-15 but it was just too little too late as Heartland fell to 4-11.
Also scoring double-digits for the Lions was Durand Wannale. He came up with 12, including a pair of long-distance shots. Glen Hoffman added eight points.
Wagner led the Trojans with 14. Three other Sebring players finished with double digits. Baddeley scored 13, Hurford had 11 and Tony Sabatine added 10.
"We did a nice job of spreading the scoring around," Baia said. "It makes a big difference when you know where your teammates are. And we did a great job of moving the ball and finding the open player. We played very unselfish tonight."
The Trojans are 9-8 and return to the court at home opposite Saturday. The Lions play at Southern Friday and host East Palestine on Saturday.
Sebring and Heartland Christian will meet again Feb. 28 in the first round of the Struthers Division IV District Tournament.
"We're happy to get another crack at them," Osborn said. "We're going to look back on tonight, see what we need to do, get ready and hopefully perform better next time than we did tonight."
HEARTLAND CHRISTIAN: 12 10 5 20 - 47
SEBRING: 18 24 12 15 - 69
HEARTLAND SCORING: Kyle Burgess 1-0-2, Brenden Crawford 2-0-4, Jared Robinson 8-5-21, Durand Wannale 4-2-12, Glen Hoffman 3-2-8. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 9-15, 47.
SEBRING SCORING: Josh Hurford 4-1-11, Corey Baia 1-2-4, Tony Sabatine 3-3-10, Mitch Baddeley 5-0-13, Jake Hubbs 2-26, Dakota Wagner 7-0-14, Joe Campbell 0-2-2, Jake Arbitter 2-0-4, Dylan Mick 1-1-3, Zack Jackson 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 26, 11-17, 69.
THREE POINTERS: Heartland 1 (Wannale), Sebring 6 (Baddeley 3, Hurford 2, Sabatine).