Springfield junior forward Leonard Taylor shoots during a GWOC game vs. Wayne on Friday night. BRYANT BILLING / CONTRIBUTED

High School Basketball: Defense powers Springfield past Wayne

Wildcats top Warriors for first time in three seasons

Springfield pulled away in the second half to earn a 67-55 win, which keeps the Wildcats tied for first place in the GWOC National East with Centerville.

There was little time for celebration after the game because the Wildcats (9-1, 4-1 GWOC) play Columbus Eastmoor at 1:15 p.m. Saturday in Flyin’ to the Hoop.

Taylor, who scored 18 points, said he was headed straight for bed after he left the high school in order to rest up.

“We’ve got to come back tomorrow with energy and use our fundamentals,” Taylor said. “We know our bodies are going to be tired, so we’ve got to focus.”

Highlights of the Wildcats 67-55 win over the Warriors

Wayne (9-3, 3-2) will look to shake off Friday’s loss with a game against Huntington Prep in Flyin’ to the Hoop on Saturday night. The Warriors have lost their last two league contests and sit in second place in the National East.

Springfield used relentless defensive pressure to hurry the Warriors’ shooters and grabbed rebounds to limit second-chance opportunities. The Wildcats led 32-30 at halftime but pulled away with an 8-0 run in the third quarter. Danny Davis capped the run with a steal and score to put Springfield up 50-38. Wayne never came closer than eight points after that.

Wayne averages 70 points per game, and Springfield coach Isiah Carson was proud his team contained the Warriors.

“We’re starting to hit our stride defensively,” Carson said. “That’s where it starts and ends for us. I know it isn’t the most popular thing to do to go out and defend, but when you’ve got guys that have been in your program for three to four years that have been in the trenches, they get it. They know they have to defend to taste that success.”

Michael McKay, a senior guard, led Springfield with 20 points. He had a big three-point play late in the third quarter that extended Springfield’s lead to 13 points.

Davis, also a senior guard, finished with 13. He averages 19 points but struggled to get shots in the first half when Wayne double-teamed him. It didn’t slow down Springfield, though. Aside from McKay, Lazarus Toliver and Michael Wallace hit big shots in the first half to help take the lead.

“This is a collective group,” Carson said. “These guys have been playing together since they were young and they all love each other. We don’t do this alone. This is a collective effort, and if one of our guys isn’t open, someone else can knock down shots.”

L’Christian Smith led Wayne with 22 points, while Deshon Parker scored 13 and Darius Quisenberry added 12.