HUBER HEIGHTS — Midway through the third quarter, the Wayne High School boys basketball team were finally able to string a few positive plays together and never looked back.
The Warriors ended the third quarter on a 9-0 run and cruised to an 82-65 victory over rival Springfield in Greater Western Ohio Conference action on Tuesday night in Huber Heights.
Wayne junior Lawrent Rice scored a game-high 18 points as the Warriors improved to 6-1 and 5-0 in the GWOC.
“I was proud of our kids,” said Warriors coach Nathan Martindale. “We had five guys in double figures. Guys stepped up -- big time stepped up.”
Wayne was playing without 6-foot-7 post player Aamil Wagner, who was out with an illness. Several other players stepped in his place, including seniors Mike Cole (15 points) and Kendall Lewis (12 points).
“They’ve trusted the process, which is really beautiful for me to see as a coach,” Martindale said. “It’s great to see them succeed, especially against Springfield. No matter when you play them or how many games they’ve played, they’re always an extremely tough opponent and one of the best teams we play every single year. We have a ton of respect for them.”
Sophomore Javon Hammonds, Jr. scored 12 points and sophomore Juan Crawford added 11 for the Warriors.
Junior Tyron Barnes scored 17 points, senior Micha Johnson had 13 and sophomore Will Calhoun added 10 for Springfield, which was playing its third game in five days. Springfield started its season on Dec. 6 after the Wildcats football team advanced to the state championship game.
“It’s going to take us a while to get back,” said Springfield coach Shawn McCullough. “When you talk about all the guys that are playing, they all played in the state championship (football game on Dec. 3). We haven’t really done a lot. We’ve played three games in five days. We’ve had a week-and-a-half of practice and we really haven’t had everybody at once because we’ve had guys going on college visits over the weekend. We’ll figure it out. I’m not losing any sleep.”
The Wildcats trailed by nine midway through the second quarter, but fought back to cut the lead to 31-26 at the half.
The Wildcats cut the lead to one point at 45-44 midway through the third quarter, but the Warriors went on a 9-0 run to end the third quarter to grab a 54-44 lead.
“We strung together four or five good plays in a row,” Martindale said. “I told the kids at halftime that we’ll play our pace and finish and it will be a different game. But if we’re going to make a good play and then a bad play, we’re playing right into their hands and what they want to do. I would say our guys strung together a few good possessions and that made a big difference. It gave us some momentum and some confidence.”
Springfield (1-2, 1-1 GWOC) will host Fairmont on Monday night before traveling to Lima Senior on Tuesday. While the Wildcats are still transitioning into basketball shape, McCullough was pleased with his team’s effort against a talented Wayne squad.
“We’re always going to play hard,” McCullough said. “That’s the main thing — just play hard and we’ll figure it out as we go.”
The Warriors travel to Fairfield (7-1) on Thursday before returning home for a key GWOC matchup against defending state champion Centerville (5-0, 4-0) on Dec. 30.
“There’s not much time to rest,” Martindale said. “We’ve got to get better each and every day. Our plan is to get one percent better every day.”