Henry Alexander was at home on Friday night. Way back as a promising eighth-grade basketball prospect, he beat Northmont with a half-court swish at the buzzer.
“We were just hanging on each other the whole game,” said Alexander, whose unlikely three-bomb from the deep corner as time expired lifted Springfield to an equally unlikely 73-72 defeat of host Northmont.
“We weren’t letting each other get down. We just weren’t going to let the scoreboard determine what’s going to happen at the end.”
That’s Wildcats code for 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division.
No longer the young gunners, Springfield round ball has made yet another signature win under its youthful coach and South alum Isaiah Carson.
“A one-point win in a place like this is like a 10-point win at home,” beamed Carson. “Our guys fought through. They’ve done been through the fires, the wars the past couple of years. For us doing that, those losses and hard games that we lost over the last couple years helped us get this win.”
That’s as good an explanation as any for the clutch comeback. The Wildcats trailed by 12 early in the second half and teetered on being blown out. Instead, they regrouped, applied some tenacious defense and benefited from a Northmont offensive meltdown.
Northmont (4-2) seemed a sure thing for the win. Senior Cameron Taylor buried a game-high 29 points and hit a half-dozen treys. His runner in the lane with 18.2 seconds left gave Northmont the lead again. His free throw with 6.3 left pushed the advantage to 72-70.
But all that did was set up Alexander’s game-winning buzzer beater.
As Carson instructed, DaeShawn Jackson burst toward the lane to take what appeared to be a last shot. As the Northmont defense collapsed, he quickly fed Alexander in the corner. Ballgame.
“I was confident,” said Alexander, who scored 17 points. “I wanted the ball the whole fourth quarter. I was hungry for it.”
Jackson led the Wildcats with 20 points and seven assists. Emerging 6-foot-8 sophomore Darius Harper was a force in the middle with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Danny Davis was good for 13 points.
If Springfield is to contend for a Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division title, this could prove to be a pivotal launching win. The Wildcats seem to have everything in place, a blend of veterans and outstanding newcomers, height and a determination not to fold when all seems lost.
Just as important, they have an intangible working for them. “Sometimes,” Carson conceded, “you’ve got to have that luck on your side.”