Tied at halftime to decisive underdog Springboro, this wasn’t what Springfield had envisioned to open the boys high school basketball postseason.
Coach Isaiah Carson challenged the Wildcats to quickly get it right. No one responded better than Raheim Moss, who again was instrumental in a 77-60 second-half dismantling of Springfield in Tuesday’s night Division I sectional semifinal at Centerville.
“He’s a junkyard dawg,” Carson said of Moss, an emerging 6-foot-4 junior go-to guard. “He does a little bit of everything for us.”
What Moss did was score a game-high 24 points to go with JaJuan Rodgers’ 19 and 11 more from Leonard Taylor. That and a boosted second-half defensive mindset were enough to launch Springfield (19-4) into Friday’s 6 p.m. sectional final also at Centerville against Sidney (18-6), which eliminated Beavercreek in Tuesday’s second game, 56-45.
It’ll be the first time the Greater Western Ohio Conference member will have played this season after scrimmaging in the preseason.
A No. 2 seed, Springfield opted for a first-round bye and hadn’t played in 10 days. And it showed in the first half with the team knotted at 32-all.
“We’re just coming together,” Moss said. “It’s tournament time; everybody’s head has got to be on straight. We come ready to play and it’s about the defense. We thought it was going to be an easy game and it wasn’t.”
But Springboro (8-16) couldn’t hang with Springfield when it mattered most. The Panthers, guided by first-year coach Kyle Youker, were led by Kaleb Tabor’s 19 points. Garett Powell added 16. Springboro pushing Springfield was no surprise; the Wildcats won 56-48 in their regular-season GWOC crossover game.
“They’re much better than their record says,” Carson said. “In the second halve we did what we needed to do.”
Sidney 56, Beavercreek 45: Andre Gordon scored 27 points and the Yellow Jackets ended the Beavers’ tourney ride in Tuesday’s nightcap at Centerville. Streaking Sidney will take an eight-game win streak against Springfield.
Beavercreek (10-14) upset Franklin in the opening round. That was the first postseason win by the Beavers since the 2011-12 season. Senior Jon Alessandro led the Beavers with 16 points.
Like Moss, Gordon is another highly sought-after junior guard and he’s being just as heavily recruited in football. He excels as the Yellow Jackets’ quarterback, but can play multiple positions, including defense.
Sidney’s postseason surge coincides with its football team that went 10-2, beating Belmint in the D-II first-round game and falling to Cincinnati La Salle.
West Liberty-Salem 52, Greeneview 40: Max Eggleston had 11 points and Neil Markins and Trevor Burden 10 apiece as the Tigers won a D-III sectional semi at Northmont on Tuesday. WL-Salem (17-7) will play top-seeded Versailles (20-4) in Saturday’s sectional final at 4:30 p.m. also at Northmont.
Versailles advanced with a 66-23 defeat of Milton-Union in which senior standout and Ohio State recruit Justin Ahrens scored a game-high 21 points and surpassed 2,000 for his career. Greeneview finishes 13-10.
Emmanuel Christian 70, Franklin Monroe 54: Nick Kittles had 22 points, Adonis Davis 19 and Fred Shropshire 13 as the Lions pulled a D-IV sectional semi upset at Troy on Tuesday. A No. 7 seed, Emmanuel (9-14) will play Tri-Village (10-12) at 7 p.m. Friday in the D-IV sectional final at Troy. Tri-Village advance with a 68-53 defeat of Miami Valley also on Tuesday.
Franklin Monroe (15-9) was a No. 3 seed.