Boys basketball: House 3-pointer lifts Centerville past Springfield

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

SPRINGFIELD — With his team trailing by one point at rival Springfield with less than 30 seconds to play, Centerville High School junior Tom House wasn’t the first option to shoot the basketball.

“We were just trying to get a quick shot off, trying to get (Gabe Cupps) off a ball screen and see what happens,” House said.

House’s clutch 3-pointer from the left wing lifted the Elks to a 45-41 victory over the Wildcats on Wednesday night at Springfield High School.

“We were just trying to get a win out of that game,” House said. “We were playing rough. We were able to escape with a win, so that’s good.”

Junior Rich Rolf scored 14 of this team-high 16 points in the first quarter and Gabe Cupps added 11 as the Elks improved to 12-3 overall.

The Elks were fortunate to leave Springfield with a victory, Centerville coach Brook Cupps said.

“I think they outplayed us,” Brook Cupps said. “Tom just made a big shot down the stretch and that was really the only thing I think we did well. I don’t think we executed well. The credit goes to Springfield. They did a good job taking us out of stuff. They were really patient offensively, which cut down on turnovers and limited the possessions a little bit. I thought it made us stagnant offensively because we weren’t able to play with the pace we’ve been playing at. We’ve got to get a lot better.”

Senior Josh Tolliver scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, while junior Eddie Muhammad had 11 and junior Micha Johnson scored 10 for the Wildcats (6-7).

Centerville beat Springfield 101-59 in their previous meeting on Jan. 3.

“I’m not really into moral victories,” said Springfield coach Shawn McCullough. “That’s just the way I was brought up. But considering the circumstances from the last time we played, it was totally different. It’s a good thing because it shows that we’ve gotten better and teams are starting to notice.”

The Elks jumped out to a 19-10 first quarter lead, but Springfield cut the lead to 29-23 at the half. Muhammad and Johnson scored combined for 21 of the Wildcats 23 first-half points.

Tolliver scored 12 points in the third quarter as Springfield claimed the lead twice in the third quarter.

With less than a minute remaining, Tolliver scored to give the Wildcats a 41-40 lead. With about thirty seconds remaining, Centerville’s Emmanuel Deng took a charge, giving the ball back to the Elks. On the next possession, House’s 3-pointer gave the Elks the lead.

Springfield had a chance to tie the score, but Johnson’s shot rimmed out.

“They’re buying into the system and how I want to defend and it’s starting to show,” McCullough said. “They continue to work hard in practice and it’s showing every time we play.”

The Wildcats travel to Wayne on Friday and Beavercreak on Saturday before this weekend’s postseason tournament draw.

“We’ll be ready to play,” McCullough said. “We’ll be a tough out for everybody.”

Centerville’s Gabe Cupps hit two free throws in the final moments to seal the victory.

“You’re fortunate when it goes like that and you’re able to pull it out at the end,” Brook Cupps said. “It’s luck. I didn’t coach well enough to win, our guys didn’t play well enough to win, but we were just fortunate (to win).”

The Elks have six games remaining, including matchups against Wayne, Olentangy Liberty, ISA Academy and Lakewood St. Edward’s.

“We’re going to have to play,” Cupps said. “We’ve got to find a way to get better faster.”

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