The Wildcats used a ferocious full-court trap to force the Vikings into turnovers in the second half, pulling out a 36-31 victory in Greater Western Ohio Conference action.
“We had to grit it out,” said Springfield coach Isaiah Carson. “We kept defending and defending. Eventually, something was going to fall and that’s what happened for us.”
Senior David Sanford scored all of his game-high 15 points in the second half for the Wildcats (2-1, 2-0 GWOC National East). Springfield was without four varsity players, including leading scorer Raheim Moss, who missed the game with an illness. Guard Jordan Howard and post Raymans Cole also missed the game with injuries, while Michael Brown-Stephens went on his official visit to the University of Minnesota, where he committed earlier this year.
Sanford scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including hitting 4-of-5 free throws to seal the victory.
“I expect nothing less from a senior that’s worked as hard as he has,” Carson said. “We’re very lucky to have David. He represents the city of Springfield tremendously. I can’t be prouder of him. There’s nobody more deserving than him. He made some key buckets when we needed them the most.”
Springfield made just one field goal in the first quarter, a 3-pointer by Ani Elliott. The second quarter saw just two made field goals by Elliott and Jalan Minney.
“We had good looks, we just didn’t knock’em down,” Carson said, “but we fought defensively and only gave up 14 points, which is amazing.”
The Vikings’ Drew Barry hit a 3-pointer with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter to give Miamisburg (2-2, 1-1 GWOC National West) a 17-9 lead, its biggest of the game.
“We wanted our defense to control the tempo and I thought we did a pretty good job of it,” said Vikings coach Tim Fries. “We wanted to stretch out those possessions.”
A few minutes later, Springfield went on a quick 6-0 run, scoring four points on turnovers to pull within two at 21-19.
“We knew they had the firepower to do that,” Fries said. “That hurt us. We were kind of on our heels after that.”
Springfield finally took the lead at 29-28 midway through the fourth quarter on a layup by Isaiah Gibson — his only bucket of the game. It hit 8-of-12 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Trailing 34-31, Miamisburg missed an open 3-pointer to tie the score with 30 seconds remaining. They were unable to find the bucket the remainder of the game.
“We turned it over at the end,” Fries said. “That’s something we struggled with the last couple of games, closing out the fourth quarter. This is not a team where you can come in and make the same mistakes you made earlier. We were hoping we were beyond that, but it’s still a work in progress.”
The Vikings host West Carrollton on Tuesday and travel to Northmont for a GWOC National West Division game on Friday.
Springfield travels to Upper Arlington on Tuesday and Centerville on Friday. Carson expects both teams to slow the game to a crawl.
“They’ll want to make it ugly, just like tonight,” he said. “It’s right on schedule.”