Time was running out and Henry Alexander knew where to go. And Dae’Shawn Jackson knew where to find him.
“I was going up and I was going to take it,” Jackson said of what would have been about a 10-footer off the glass. “But as soon as I saw his man jump down on me I just turned around and dished.”
Alexander executed the catch-and-shoot play for the second time this season with the game on the line. He sank a 3-pointer from the right corner to lift Springfield to a 69-67 victory over host Wayne on Wednesday.
“It was a total rhythm shot,” Alexander said. “At times like that you have to be ready to shoot. If you’re not ready to shoot, it’s not going to go in.”
Earlier this season at Northmont, Jackson dished to Alexander for a winning 3-pointer.
“He’s a tough-shot maker,” Springfield coach Isiah Carson said. “That’s what he does.”
But two times in one season?
“It’s wonderful, it’s such a blessing,” Alexander said. “We’re just thankful when we’re in situations like that we have people to go to.”
Jackson has a further explanation.
“We’ve been playing together since we were little,” he said. “We’ve got this chemistry that nobody else has got. He’s like the other side of my brain. I know what he’s thinking, and he knows what I’m thinking.”
Springfield (11-2, 4-1) remains in first place in the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division. For Wayne (11-4, 4-2), it was the second close loss to the Wildcats. In December at Springfield, Jackson made a late basket to put Springfield up one. After a Wayne turnover, Alexander made two free throws to secure a 65-62 victory.
This game turned for Wayne with some critical turnovers in the final minutes. The Warriors, who were led by Xeyrius Williams with 19 points, made 23-of-24 free throws, including 13-of-14 in the fourth quarter. They finally missed with 1:04 left.
“They were physical and more aggressive defensively,” Wayne coach Travis Trice said. “Our guys were not strong with the ball. There was definitely some grabbing and stuff like that going on, but it was going on throughout the whole game. We didn’t step up and take care of the ball. That was the difference in the game.”
Jackson and freshman Danny Davis scored 19 points each to lead Springfield, and Alexander finished with 12. And despite only shooting 10 free throws, the Wildcats were able to overcome an 11-point deficit in the third quarter behind a run led by Jackson and Alexander.
The Wildcats entered the fourth quarter trailing 42-37. They led briefly at 53-52 and trailed afterward until Jackson tied the score at 66-all with a 3-pointer with 1:27 left.
“They’ve got a good group of kids and they play hard,” Trice said. “So we knew it was going to be a scrap. I told them coming in no matter how much get them down, they’re going to continue to play.”
After some recent performances that left Carson asking his team to play with more hunger, he got a strong effort.
“It’s our leadership,” Carson said of Jackson and Alexander. “Those guys aren’t giving up.”