Looking for a spark that would jump-start its season, Centerville found it against the most unlikely team, mighty Springfield.
“It feels pretty good,” Elks junior guard and designated hero Ryan Marchal said following a 50-48 upset of the visiting Wildcats on Friday night. “We put in a lot of work in the offseason to beat teams like this. We haven’t had a good game here in a while, we haven’t played well.”
The loss dropped Springfield to 15-2 overall and also was its second in Greater Western Ohio Conference National East play, following a 65-62 overtime setback at unbeaten Wayne two weeks ago.
There was no time for the Wildcats to reflect on that. Springfield hosted defending Division I state runner-up Cincinnati Moeller on Saturday night. That was the last of a daunting midseason run in which Springfield played six games in 11 days.
After Moeller, Springfield gets a break until Friday’s rematch against visiting Wayne. That result likely will determine which of the two area powers earns the No. 1 seed in the upcoming sectional tournament in next weekend’s coaches’ meetings.
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Centerville (11-7) was coming off a 44-40 setback to Cincinnati Purcell Marian on Tuesday. Like Springfield, Centerville also faced another high-end challenge on Saturday, losing 46-42 at Toledo St. John’s, ranked No. 6 in the D-I state poll. The Elks lost 49-32 to visiting Moller on Jan. 6.
“Hopefully, this gets us playing consistently at a high level,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps said. “Springfield’s a great team. We had to play for 32 minutes and I don’t think we’ve done that very often this year.”
Wayne (17-0), the state’s top-ranked D-I team, has clinched at least a share of the GWOC National East at 10-0 and will win an outright title should it beat Springfield or Centerville in its remaining two divisional games. Springfield (8-2) also has divisional games remaining against Wayne and Fairmont. Centerville (6-2) ends the regular season with four consecutive games that count toward National East play.
Centerville and Springfield appeared headed to another OT thriller. Centerville led by six points midway through the fourth quarter, but Springfield senior guard Michael Wallace hit a 3-pointer from the wing to pull the teams even at 48-all with 28.8 seconds left. He missed the bonus free throw and Centerville took advantage.
Playing for a final shot, Centerville turned to Marchal again and he delivered what would be the winning shot, a twisting layup through the heart of Springfield’s defense with 2.9 seconds left. Marchal also hit a 3-pointer with 1:09 left and another bucket with 39.9 seconds remaining. He scored seven of his 13 points in the final 69 seconds.
Alex Grandin, Centerville’s starting quarterback the last two seasons, led the Elks with 16 points, all but two in the second half. He also had four 3-pointers.
“Our guys did a really good job of responding in the fourth quarter when we made a little run and they responded,” Cupps said. “I’m hopeful that gets us going in the right direction and we can finish as good as we can be at the end.”
Springfield’s JaJuan Rodgers missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Leonard Taylor hit all four free throws and led Springfield with 12 points. At least three members of the University of Cincinnati football staff were at the game to further woo the 6-foot-7 senior. He is expected to announce his decision and sign a letter of intent during Wednesday’s traditional national signing day for football and soccer.
Springfield’s RaHeim Moss added 10 points. Springfield converted just 10 of 19 free throws. The Wildcats defeated visiting Centerville 50-37 in their first matchup on Dec. 15.
• Chaminade Julienne also landed a defining comeback overtime win over rival Alter, 64-60. The Eagles trailed by 22 early in the second half and mounted a comeback keyed by Jack Nauseef’s 14 second-half points. Milton Gage led CJ with 15 points and Joey Greene’s 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in regulation forced OT.
CJ (7-10) remains tied with Carroll at 4-3 for second in the Greater Catholic League North behind leader Fenwick (12-4, 6-2). Conner Bazelak and Jack Smith each had 17 points for visiting Alter (4-14, 1-7).
• Nathan Bruns hit 9 of 13 shots and scored 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in leading Marion Local to a 70-44 defeat of visiting Minster. Local (12-3, 5-0) is a half-game behind Versailles (16-1, 6-0) in the Midwest Athletic Conference. Versailles is at Marion Local on Feb. 12 in what could decide the MAC title.
• Ryan Bassler’s 3-pointer with six seconds left in OT was the game-winner as Twin Valley South’s 61-60 defeat of host Franklin Monroe. Willie Bowman led the Panthers with 30 points. South improves to 8-10 overall and 6-4 in the Cross County Conference. The Jets (11-6, 7-2) remain in second behind CCC leader Bethel (15-3, 10-0).
• Trey Frech scored 18 points on a half-dozen 3-pointers as Tri-Village defeated visiting Miami East 46-39.