Two opportunities to win had slipped away for Springfield when senior Ryan Minney stepped to the free-throw line twice in the final 37 seconds of the second overtime Tuesday night. He was too desperate for a victory to let it happen again.
Minney made three of those four free throws and Springfield had finally held on for a 68-64 victory over Centerville in the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division.
“Those situations are always tough,” said Minney, who made 9 of 14 free throws and scored a game-high 24 points. “You just have to mellow out the crowd – just take your time, follow through and knock it down.”
Springfield (7-5, 1-3) ended a four-game losing streak and handed Centerville (6-6, 1-3) its third straight loss. Minney said a recent players-only meeting helped the team rediscover its purpose.
“We all came together and had a talk saying everybody’s been a little bit more selfish, stepping out of their role,” Minney said. “We had everybody back in their role tonight. Everybody played their heart out.”
The Wildcats led 39-30 with 4:44 left in regulation when Centerville started a 20-11 run to force overtime.
“The last five minutes of the game is when it seemed like we really started to compete a little bit,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps said. “A team like Springfield playing at home, it’s not going to be enough.”
It almost was for the Elks because of a memorable play at the end of regulation. With 1.4 seconds left, point guard Eric Meininger lobbed an inbounds pass from the right sideline to center Jake Replogle who made an alley-oop to silence the gym. Replogle, who scored 20 points, broke open on a screen from Austin Recker.
“That was a nice play,” Springfield coach Isiah Carson said. “I told my guys it was coming. We just didn’t get up in the air and contest it.”
Recker, who made five 3-pointers and scored 20 points, tied it 59-59 with 47 seconds left in the first overtime. Springfield held for one shot, which Minney took under pressure near the foul line. The long rebound came to John Carson, but his quick shot from 12 feet was in and out at the buzzer.
Springfield was coming off a 15-point loss at Beavercreek and a two-point loss at Shawnee after losing a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.
“Our guys stayed mentally tough tonight,” Carson said, “and they actually finished out the game.”