Boys basketball: Wayne pulls away from Springfield for road win

SPRINGFIELD — Wayne High School boys basketball Nathan Martindale knew Springfield wouldn’t go down without a fight, especially on their home floor.

The Warriors led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but Martindale told his players they couldn’t remain comfortable against the rival Wildcats.

“It’s always tough,” he said. “I told our players it was going to take a lot of mental toughness to get it done. I was super proud of our kids because we hit a little bit of adversity and we were able to continue to battle and battle and battle.”

Springfield cut the lead to six points midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer as Wayne took home the road victory 97-82 in a Greater Western Ohio Conference game on Tuesday night.

Warriors senior Prophet Johnson scored 26 points, sophomore Lawrent Rice had 22, senior Malcolm Curry had 18 and senior Cam Fancher added 17 for the Warriors, which improved to 3-0 and 2-0 in the GWOC.

“I give our seniors a lot of credit,” Martindale said. “Those guys haven’t had a ton of success here. We talked about how not everything is going to go your way here. It’s different, especially since it’s usually a packed house … Our kids showed a lot of heart and resiliency. Springfield never quit. I told our kids they’re not going to quit because it’s not in their DNA. I was proud of our kids. I thought they played extremely well.”

Springfield senior Josh Tolliver scored 24 points, JR Wells had 17 points and Vincent Fisher added 14 for the Wildcats (1-1, 1-1 GWOC).

“I’m very proud of the way we played considering the situation,” said Wildcats coach Shawn McCullough. “New coach, new system, new era. I’m excited for what the future holds for Springfield basketball. I think the future is in the next couple weeks or next few games.”

The Warriors led 44-33 at the half and extended its lead to 56-40 midway through the fourth quarter on a dunk by Johnson, who played for McCullough last season at Thurgood Marshall. He scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half.

“He’s been exceptional for us,” Martindale said. “He’s been a kid that you can just tell he’s got that toughness about him. He’s played extremely well for us the first three games. He’s been one of our leaders. His toughness and poise, especially down the stretch, has been key for us.”

The Wildcats used a full-court press to cut the lead to six multiple times in the fourth quarter.

“We walked out of the locker room with our head held high because we played hard,” McCullough said.

Each time the Wildcats cut the lead, Curry would hit a big shot to help the Warriors pull away. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“He’s a kid that really understands our system and knows what we’re trying to do,” Martindale said. “As the game got tighter, you could see he kind of took control and was a leader on the floor. He’s a senior and that’s what I expect seniors to do at this time. Go make winning plays for your team, especially against one of our rivals.”

Both teams return to action on Dec. 30 -- Wayne hosts Springboro and Springfield hosts Lima Senior.

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