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Unbeaten Springfield gets defensive, takes out Fairmont in second half

Add another key part to Springfield’s formidable lineup: defensive stopper.

That would be David Sanford. The junior drew the ultimate task on Friday night at Fairmont. It was his job to somewhat contain high-scoring Firebirds senior guard Jack Hendricks.

“It went good,” said Sanford following Springfield’s second-half surge that produced an 81-65 boys high school basketball victory at Trent Arena. “I knew he’s a very good shooter. I just knew the game plan, stuck to it and rode it out.”

Fairmont’s Jack Hendricks (left) is guarded by Springfield’s David Sanford. Springfield defeated host Fairmont 81-65 in a boys high school basketball game at Trent Arena on Fri., Jan. 19, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Springfield was more impressive than ever and that’s saying a lot because the Wildcats improved to 11-0 overall and kept pace with unbeaten and top-ranked Wayne at 6-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East.

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Hendricks was limited to 13 points, including just two second-half free throws. Consider that a defensive gem by Sanford because Fairmont’s sharpshooter had gone for 29 and 22 points in previous losses to Spire Academy at Flyin’ to the Hoop and at Trotwood-Madison on Tuesday. He also went off for a program-record 52 points just prior to the new year, which featured 14 three-pointers.

Fairmont (9-5, 4-3) is tagged with a three-game losing streak and has no letup with home games against rival Alter (3-10) and streaking Miamisburg (9-4) this week.

“The biggest frustration on our end is not being good enough defensively to win against an elite team,” Fairmont coach Blair Albright said. “What it’s done is expose some areas where we have to get much, much better at.”

»RELATED: Unbeaten Wayne boys No. 1 in state

Tied at halftime, Springfield ratcheted up the defense and unloaded offensively to make it a second-half rout. Leonard Taylor led the Wildcats with 17 points. RaHeim Moss added 14 points and Michael Wallace 13 in his best game since returning in midseason following a knee injury. Larry Stephens and Sanford added 10 apiece.

Springfield still is without projected backcourt starter JaJuan Rodgers. He scored 17 in the season opener and has been out since with injury.

“To their credit, they’ve got so many guys that can run at you,” Albright said. “So many guys who are talented enough to score for them. They’re a really tough assignment.”

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Cade Morgan led Fairmont with 15 points. Ryan Hall and Hendricks each added 13 and Kellan Bochenek 12.

Springfield was coming off a 73-67 overtime defeat of Cleveland Heights at Flyin’ and faces its toughest schedule stretch. The Wildcats were at Chaminade Julienne on Saturday. On Tuesday, Springfield will be Dayton City League breakout team Belmont (8-1), then at Wayne on Wednesday in an anticipated showdown of unbeatens. On Friday Springfield hosts Springboro after playing the previous five games on the road.

That’s five games in seven days for the Wildcats. The Wayne game was postponed because of weather from Jan. 12. Wayne overtook Upper Arlington as the state’s No. 1 team in Division I last week.

“It’s going to show how tough we are,” Wallace said. “We’ve got to get through it.”

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• Leading scorer Darius Quisenberry had 22 points in Wayne’s 81-53 win on Friday at Springboro (4-9). Warriors senior guard Deshone Parker hit 5 of 8 three-pointers and scored a career-high 21. It was Wayne’s first game since vaulting to No. 1 in the state.

Wayne also finished No. 1 as an undefeated D-I state poll champ in the 2015-16 season. Led by Trey Landers, the Warriors were the defending D-I state champs that season and appeared to be destined to add another title but were upset by Lakota East in a district final. Landers has had a breakout sophomore season as a starter for the University of Dayton.

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• As expected, Versailles senior Justin Ahrens became the Midwest Athletic Conference’s all-time career scoring leader during Friday’s 73-46 defeat of visiting Fort Recovery. And he did it with a spectacular show, scoring 38 points to go with 10 rebound and 10 assists.

He needed just seven points to overtake former Versailles standout Kyle Gehle (2004 grad) as the MAC’s all-time scoring leader. With 1,776 points and half a season left, Ahrens is a lock to surpass 2,000 points.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association only lists players who have scored 2,200 or more points, but that’s loaded with former area standouts: Luke Kennard (Franklin), Jerry Lucas (Middletown), Jarron Cumberland (Wilmington), Matt Witt (Bethel), Nathan Lessing (Fairlawn) and Mike Cross (Franklin Monroe). Kennard’s 2,977 points is No. 2 all time.

Gehle presented Ahrens the game ball afterward. Versailles (13-1) is ranked among the state’s best D-III teams. “We’re just looking to make a deep tournament run and be the first team to make history at Versailles,” Ahrens told The (Greenville) Daily Advocate.

• Carroll’s boys opened the season with three straight losses, but the Patriots defeated host Roger Bacon on Friday for their sixth consecutive win. Eli Ramsey, the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed scoring leader, led Carroll with 27 points.

Fenwick (9-2, 4-1) and Carroll (8-4, 3-2) have separated from CJ and Alter in the GCL North. Carroll lost to Belmont, Miamisburg and unbeaten McNicholas to start the season and also 50-48 to Fenwick. Those teams are a combined 39-7.

• Stebbins senior Jonathan Mpanzu scored a season-high 27 points in a 66-51 defeat of visiting Tippecanoe on Friday. Another highlight was the induction into the Indians’ athletic hall of fame of veteran golf coach Jim Beavers and the 2008 boys bowling team that won a state title with former TV sports personality Don Brown as coach.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

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