Boys Basketball: Rodgers, Park come up big for Wildcats

Springfield sophomore guard JaJuan Rodgers shoots during a sectional tournament game against West Carrollton last Wednesday. Rogers scored a crucial basket late in overtime against Xenia on Friday. Bryant Billing/Contributed
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Springfield sophomore guard JaJuan Rodgers shoots during a sectional tournament game against West Carrollton last Wednesday. Rogers scored a crucial basket late in overtime against Xenia on Friday. Bryant Billing/Contributed

When Springfield fans reminisce about the team’s come-from-behind sectional final win over Xenia in future years, Michael McKay’s clutch shots will probably be what most remember. But without the play of Dominique Parks and JaJuan Rodgers off the bench, Springfield couldn’t have won the game.

McKay, a senior guard, hit a 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation to send it to overtime, hit a late basket in overtime that tied the game, and hit the game-winning free throw with 2.2 seconds left in 'Cats 73-72 win .

Danny Davis and RaHeim Moss both fouled out in the fourth quarter, and Parks and Rodgers both came up with big plays in their absence. Both hit shots in overtime, and Parks also had six rebounds and was a big defensive presence in the post.

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“Other players stepped up big-time,” McKay said. “They work hard in practice and they’re basketball guys, and it shows when they got in and did their part. They helped us win the game.”

Parks also saw a lot of playing time in the first half after Leonard Taylor picked up two fouls. Parks’ presence helped contain Xenia, which got many inside points off of penetration.

“I just had to make smart plays and get the ball to our leaders,” Parks said. “Just play my role and execute.”

Parks also scored six points, including a basket with about 1:45 left in overtime that tied it up 68-68.

“He played like a senior that didn’t want to go home,” Springfield coach Isaiah Carson said. “Dominique has come up with some big plays in a number of games this year, and I’m proud of him. He stepped up like a senior would.

“You’ve also got to give JaJuan Rodgers credit. He came off the bench and hit some big shots tonight. He did a pretty good job. This really shows our depth.”

After Love hit a shot in the post to give Xenia a two-point lead with 45 seconds left, McKay scored to tie it up. Rodgers, who finished with five points, followed with a shot with 14.7 seconds left to put Springfield in the lead. Xenia tied the game on a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left, but McKay hit the game winner a few seconds later.

Xenia made 57 percent of its shot attempts, well over its season shooting average of 42.8 percent. But the Buccaneers finished with 12 turnovers, most of which came in the second half during Springfield’s rally. Parks credits that to Springfield’s full-court pressure.

“We were able to speed them up and they got out of control,” Parks said. “We got a lot of turnovers, and were able to execute on the other end.

“We don’t back down. We just keep fighting, fighting, fighting and we don’t back down.”

Springfield (22-3) will play Cincinnati Oak Hills (22-3) in a district final on Saturday at 9 p.m. at UD Arena. Oak Hills (22-3) beat Wilmington by 19 points in a sectional final on Saturday to advance.

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