Ronnie Hampton wasn’t going to let a third chance to beat his team’s biggest rival slip away, especially on Senior Night.
In his final home game, the Wayne High School senior scored 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Warriors kept their Greater Western Ohio Conference National East Division title hopes alive with a 75-72 triple overtime victory over Springfield on Friday night.
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Hampton scored the first bucket of the third OT to give the Warriors the lead for good at 69-67. He hit the first of two free throws with 1.7 seconds. He missed the second, but Springfield’s heave at the buzzer fell well short of the goal.
“Coach told us we had to stay together,” Hampton said. “We had to finish and work harder. … It’s a great rivalry with Springfield. We just had to keep working hard and pushing as a team. My teammates had my back. They trusted me so I just had to do what I had to do.”
Rashad McKee scored 17 points and Tallice Landers added 12 as the Warriors improved to 12-8 and 9-2 in the GWOC National East. They’re now tied with Springfield (12-8, 9-2). Both teams each have one division game remaining.
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Centerville (14-5, 8-2) is a half-game back with two division games remaining. The Elks travel to Beavercreek on Tuesday before hosting Wayne on Friday night.
Ra’Heim Moss had 17 points for Springfield despite fouling out with about three minutes remaining in regulation. David Sanford had 16 points, while Larry Stephens scored 12 and Jalan Minney added 10. The Wildcats travel to Fairmont on Tuesday night. With a victory, Springfield will earn a share of the division title.
It wasn’t an easy task for Wayne to stay in the title race. The Warriors led by 10 to open the second half, but the Wildcats fought back to tie the game at 57 on a 3-point play by Raymans Cole with about 2:30 minutes remaining.
With 4.6 seconds remaining, Wayne’s Jahrod Lankford made the first of two free throws to give the Warriors a 61-58 lead. The second free throw missed, allowing Sanford to bank in a fall away 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to OT.
Wayne quickly took a 67-62 lead in the first OT. The Wildcats went on a 5-0 run to end the period, tying the game at 67 on a made free throw by Stephens. He had a shot to win the game, but it fell short.
Neither team scored in the second overtime. Springfield was content to run several minutes off the clock out as Wayne sat back on defense. Sanford had a shot to win the game, but it rimmed out.
Hampton quickly scored to open the third OT and the Warriors never gave up the lead.
The game was another chapter in the longtime Springfield-Wayne rivalry, Wayne coach Nathan Martindale said.
“It was a heck of a shot (by Sanford),” he said. “We had to be resilient, figure out what we’re going to do from there. I felt our kids did a really good job of grinding it out. They showed a lot of resolve, a lot of mental toughness. That’s what you’re looking for.”
Springfield coach Isaiah Carson was proud of his team’s effort, especially with Moss stuck on the bench in the overtime periods.
“Give credit to Wayne. They played great,” Carson said. “My guys came off the bench and they fought. That’s the heart of Springfield.”
The Wildcats struggled at the free throw line, hitting 18-of-31 from the line. Springfield got in a hole early and was never quite able to recover, he said.
“We’ve got to understand that in big games like these, every possession counts,” Carson said. “There were a lot of times tonight we got impatient and took some quick, bad (shots). You can’t win ball games like that. It’s disappointing that late in the season that stuff like that is still taking place. You think we’d have figured that out with the gauntlet that we’ve played. Either we fix it, or we’ll be going home early.”