Boys basketball: Late surge lifts Springfield past Fairmont

Springfield High School sophomore Shawn Thigpen shoots over Fairmont's Caleb Fortener (left) and Anthony Johnson (right) during their game on Tuesday night at Trent Arena. The Wildcats on 46-44. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Springfield High School sophomore Shawn Thigpen shoots over Fairmont's Caleb Fortener (left) and Anthony Johnson (right) during their game on Tuesday night at Trent Arena. The Wildcats on 46-44. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Wildcats have won three of their last four games

KETTERING — Trailing by nine points late in the third quarter against Fairmont on Tuesday night, the Springfield boys basketball team never wavered.

The Wildcats turned up the pressure defensively, holding the Firebirds to 10 points in the fourth quarter on their way to a 46-44 Greater Western Ohio Conference victory at Trent Arena.

Junior Micha Johnson scored 14 points and senior Josh Tolliver added 10 as the Wildcats (4-4, 4-2 GWOC) won for the third time in their last four games.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” said Springfield coach Shawn McCullough. “I’m excited because they’re buying what we’re selling as a coaching staff. Our offense has been productive. We defended the heck out of the ball. I thought we played really well today. The kids are buying in and the football players are starting to get their basketball legs. It’s exactly what I thought Springfield basketball could be.”

Junior Anthony Johnson had a game-high 15 points and junior Dasan Doucet added 11 as the Firebirds fell to 2-5 and 2-4 in the GWOC.

Springfield led 18-17 at the half, but the third quarter belonged to Fairmont. The Firebirds outscored the Wildcats 16-8 and led by nine points until Tolliver hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Wildcats turned up the pressure in the fourth quarter. Sixth man Johnson scored 10 straight points for Springfield, including back-to-back 3-pointers, to tie the score at 41 with about three minutes remaining. The junior has scored double-digits in six straight games.

Springfield High School guard Micha Johnson drives past Fairmont's Ryan Soter during their game on Tuesday night at Trent Arena. Johnson scored 14 points as the Wildcats won 46-44. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Springfield High School guard Micha Johnson drives past Fairmont's Ryan Soter during their game on Tuesday night at Trent Arena. Johnson scored 14 points as the Wildcats won 46-44. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

“We’ve had discussions about putting him in the starting lineup, but he gets so engaged at the start of the game that he’s been in the best sixth man I’ve ever coached,” McCullough said. “He’s bringing the energy.”

Senior Ryan Soter hit two free throws to give the Firebirds a two-point lead, but Springfield’s Tyron Barnes hit two free throws to tie the score at 43.

On its next possession, Barnes went back to the free throw line, hitting one of two to give Springfield the lead for good.

With nine seconds remaining, Tolliver made a layup on a full-court inbounds pass to give Springfield a 46-43 lead. On the ensuing Fairmont possession, Springfield was called for a technical foul for touching the inbounds passer.

Fairmont’s Anthony Johnson hit one of two free throws to bring them within two points. On the inbounds play, Malachi Parker’s deep three-pointer missed as time expired, sealing Springfield’s victory.

Springfield started the season 1-3, but upset state-ranked Miamisburg (No. 10) 69-66 last week on a last-second 3-pointer by junior Eddie Muhammed. Last Friday, the Wildcats won at Northmont, then lost to Thomas Worthington team on the road. The game against Fairmont was their fourth road game in seven days.

“We’re happy to finish that stretch 3-1,” McCullough said. “They’re starting to understand my system.”

The Wildcats were scheduled to play Centerville on Friday, but the varsity game has been postponed. Springfield isn’t scheduled to play again until Friday, Jan. 22 when it hosts Beavercreek.

“We get some time to get some skill work the next few days,” McCullough said. “I’m not going to give them any days off.”

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