WATCH: Buzzer-beater lifts Wayne; Springboro rolls behind 3-point barrage

CENTERVILLE – Nate Martindale knows it’s cliche to say, “Next man up.” But without that mentality, his Wayne Warriors don’t win Monday and advance to their fifth straight Division I district final.

When leading scorer and Greater Western Ohio Conference player of the Juan Cranford fouled out with 58 seconds left in regulation with 12 points, the Warriors leaned on the senior they call “Bobo” to save the season. His real name is Josiah Howard-Morrison, but now you can call him “Big Shot Bobo.”

Howard-Morrison, who averages 4.5 points a game, made a lot of big shots starting with a free throw to force overtime. He scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime and swished a 3-pointer from the left corner as time expired to lift the Warriors to a 73-70 victory over Lebanon.

Wayne’s winning play began with Jay’Sean Price (17 points) using a screen from Isaiah Thompson to dribble into the lane and pull and up for a short jumper. The shot bounced off the rim and was tapped to the corner where Howard-Morrison executed a quick catch-and-shoot move that won the game.

“It was an in the moment thing,” he said. “I didn’t get time to think about it. I knew it was a big game, and we had to hit the shot. I always live by we don’t lose, so I knew I had to step up in that moment.”

Wayne players joyously mobbed Howard-Morrison in a rare moment for any high school team, and the rowdy Lebanon student section directly across the floor stood silent.

“That was the first time in a while since like middle school or JV years, but it felt good just knowing that everything planned out how God wanted it to,” Howard-Morrison said. “And we all celebrated it together.”

Eventually Martindale got to Howard-Morrison for a big hug.

“I probably ran around like a little kid after the game,” he said. “I’m just excited for my guy and excited for these guys to find a way through adversity, not having our leading scorer on the floor, to get it done. And that’s beautiful.”

The Warriors (17-8) meet Cincinnati Elder (20-4) at 3 p.m. Sunday in a district final at Xavier’s Cintas Center. But before the Warriors could plan that trip, they had to fight back late against Lebanon (13-11) after it had rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to lead 50-45 with 4:20 left in regulation.

Big shots by both teams followed starting with 3-pointers by Cranford and Boots Perkins (13 points) to cut Lebanon’s lead to 52-51. The lead changed hands four times before Howard-Morrison made the second of two free throws with 20 seconds left to force overtime. Wayne jumped to a five-point lead in overtime before Howard-Morrison scored his team’s next seven points to lead 68-64 with 53 seconds left.

Lebanon, with 6-foot-7 super sophomore Anthony Thompson working on a 29-point night, was far from out of it. Thompson’s 3-pointer at 39 seconds and Matthew Weber’s 3-pointer at 12 seconds forged a 70-70 tie. Then it was time for “Big Shot Bobo” to add his name to Wayne basketball lore.

“I know God’s got me, and I was praying continuously through the game,” Howard-Morrison said. “He was installing the confidence in me just like my coach was, and I knew that I can make those plays.”

Martindale, though he would have loved to have Cranford for the entire game, says he believes in whoever is on the court to make plays.

“He’s probably not had the year he’s wanted, but he’s a phenomenal leader,” Martindale said of Howard-Morrison. “He’s here for his brothers. He’s here for Juan. I looked to him, because he’s one of my seniors, to step up and lead us. I knew he would.”

Springboro 85, Springfield 69: After Brian Bales’ 9-14 inaugural season at Springboro, he told his best players that 3-point shooting had to become a priority. So Will Yates and Maxim Butler got in the gym every day (except football game days) and shot about 350 times. They’ve reaped the benefits of that work all season to earn a trip to the district finals for the first time since 2020.

The Panthers (18-6) put away the young and upstart Wildcats (3-19) with a 14-of-28 shooting display from 3-point range. Their third-quarter performance would be difficult to equal. From the 6:06 mark to the 2:13 mark, the Panthers made seven consecutive 3-pointers to increase their lead from seven points to 20. The 3-pointers in order: Carson Brigger, Yates, Yates, Butler, Butler, Carson Gutmann, Yates.

“We’re a dangerous team when we shoot it well,” Bales said. “We went through some things last year, and these guys stuck with me, they stuck with the vision. This group here, they trust each other, they love each other, they play for joy, they’re connected.”

If the Panthers shoot it well in their next game, they will give top-ranked Cincinnati Moeller (24-1) all it wants at 3 p.m. Sunday at Xavier.

“I just want to play in front of the crowd,” Yates said. “I want to show what we can do. Everybody doubted us this year.”

The Panthers made 14 3-pointers for the second straight game and set school records this season for most 3-pointers in a game at 16 and most in a season now at 204. Butler, who says he never worked as much in the offseason as this past one, owns the school career record for 3-pointers made and has made 69 this season for the single-season record. He scored 21 points against Springfield.

“It started with Coach Bales,” Butler said. “He made us want to be connected, and we all wanted to go far, and we all came together.”

Yates is the hottest shooter in the tournament. He scored 38 points in a first-round win over Miamisburg and made 13 of 23 shots, including 8 of 12 3-pointers. Against Springfield he made 6 of 9 3-pointers and scored 32 points.

“He’s hard to guard, he’s electric, he shines on big stages,” Bales said. “And he loves that. He eats that up.”

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