Springfield junior forward Leonard Taylor shoots during a Greater Western Ohio Conference game against Centerville on Friday night. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Springfield turns up defense to top Centerville

The Elks didn’t score in the third quarter and continued to struggle on offense until the final minutes, and Springfield held on to earn a 57-49 win.

“We got one of our defensive leaders back there in the second half in Lazarus Toliver,” Springfield coach Isaiah Carson said. “He makes us go defensively, man. He flies around and we feed off of him. We had to sit him in the first half for disciplinary issues, but he came back and finished strong. What he does for this team doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, but we really feed off of him”

Centerville led by eight points at halftime, but Springfield used a masterful defensive performance to take the lead in the third quarter. Michael McKay capped a 9-0 run on a dunk with three minutes left to give Springfield a 34-33 lead. Danny Davis added a put-back and a free throw in the final three minutes for Springfield, while the Elks failed to score.

Keegan Saben broke Centerville’s scoreless streak with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 7:07 left in the fourth, but the Wildcats’ defense was too much for the Elks to overcome in the game’s final minutes.

Springfield went on a 6-2 run in a three-minute stretch in the fourth, which RaHeim Moss finished on a put-back with 1:43 left. The run put Springfield up 52-42, and the Elks cut it no closer than six points after that.

Danny Davis led Springfield with 15 points, while Leonard Taylor scored 14. Carson credited Taylor, a 6-foot-6 forward, for coming down with big rebounds in the second half.

“I’ve got to give props to Leonard Taylor, because he played his tail off especially in the second half in the paint,” Carson said. “We don’t win that game tonight without him patrolling that paint and rebounding that basketball.”

Springfield led 9-7 midway through the first quarter, but Centerville scored the next 10 points to take the lead. After Springfield scored a couple of buckets in the last minute, Saben launched a desperation shot from beyond half court that went in nothing-but-net to give Centerville a 20-13 lead.

Centerville scored the first seven points of the third quarter, but Springfield finished on a 12-6 run to cut the deficit to 33-25 at halftime.

Saben hurt his ankle in practice earlier this week but led the Elks with 21 points.

Springfield (14-2, 8-1 GWOC National East) travels to Wilmington on Saturday night, while Centerville (10-6, 6-3) plays at Fairborn.

Springfield won 46-40 when the two teams first met in conference action on Jan. 10 at Centerville.

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