It’s not easy to get a championship bead on any Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division boys basketball team. Most have taken multiple shots at the top.
Beavercreek was there the longest. Then Springfield, Wayne and Centerville.
Unlike Trotowod-Madison in the GWOC North and Miamisburg in the South, it means the Central title likely won’t be settled until the final shot.
The Beavers took a big step to get back into the championship hunt following a season-defining 71-66 defeat of visiting Springfield on Friday night.
“I felt that we sent a message to everyone, saying that we’re finally here and we’re making a run at the end of the year,” said Beavers’ senior Alec Stein.
Creek and Wayne are both 13-4 overall and share the Central lead at 6-2. A half-game back at 5-2 is Springfield (13-3 overall) and Centerville (12-6).
Anything can happen when these teams hook up and usually does. Central bottom dwellers Northmont and even Fairmont are no easy outs.
Beavercreek made a 9-0 run to begin the season but wobbled in midseason with a 3-4 stretch. In that skid were a pair of one-point losses to Centerville and Wayne.
“We knew we were close,” Creek coach John Ahrns said. “Getting a win over a team like this huge. It puts us to the point where we control our own destiny to win the league title, which is exactly what we want.”
Beavercreek swept the series with Springfield, also winning 53-49 on the road earlier this month. The loss snaps the Wildcats’ six-game win streak. Spotting the Beavers a game-opening 10-0 lead hurt the Wildcats. Converting just 11 of 26 free throws was fatal.
The Beavers pushed that advantage to 16 points early in the fourth quarter. A 14-0 run put the Wildcats back into contention and seemed to set them up for another incredible finish.
Springfield has three last-second wins and has won five games by three or less points. The Cats seemed poised for another unlikely finish.
Then Jarred Waters took over. The Beavercreek senior found himself open for a slam midway through the fourth quarter. The following possession teammate Airius Moore flipped a perfect pass and Waters hammered home another bomb.
“The first one I drove baseline and it was wide open,” said Waters, who scored a team-high 17 points. “ I thought, why not? The second one, Airius was looking at the (rim) the whole time. I was like, oh, there it is.”
Stein and Tyler Reason each added 14 points and Zach Rower 13 in a balanced Beavercreek offensive display.
Emerging freshman guard Danny Davis and Daeshawn Jackson each tallied 21 points to lead the Wildcats.
All four GWOC Central contenders will be fighting for high seeds in next weekend’s Division I seed meeting. Staying away from Trotwood for as long as possible will be the No. 1 priority.
“It caught up to us,” Springfield coach Isaiah Carson said. “Give Beavercreek credit. We didn’t come to play and when we finally turned it on it was too little, too late.”