Like the rest of his teammates, JaJuan Rodgers felt Springfield gave away a sure win at Wayne just two weeks ago. But then the unthinkable followed soon after; consecutive boys high school basketball losses to Centerville and Moeller.
What had been a special 13-0 run to start the season had melted into midseason uncertainty. There would be no better way to jump-start the end of the regular season than taking out Wayne in the rematch.
Springfield did just that, delivering a solid 54-47 upset of top-ranked and unbeaten Wayne on Friday night.
“It’s a big win for us because we’ve been losing,” said Rodgers, a junior guard who led the Wildcats with 14 points. “We felt like we out-played Wayne the first time. We didn’t fall short this time.”
Wayne had its 18-game win streak snapped. The Warriors have been ranked No. 1 in the state by the Associated Press since the second poll.
Springfield was coming off those successive losses last weekend. But Wayne had no chance in the rematch, not with a sold-out and super-hyped crowd waiting.
“That was a great win, a good bounce-back win against a very good basketball team,” understated Springfield coach Isaiah Carson. “It ain’t hard to get up for this one. I think it’s the best rivalry in the state. Both teams played hard and the home crowd helped us out. We’ll take it.”
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Wayne (18-1, 10-1) already had clinched a tie for the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East title and can clinch it outright by beating visiting Centerville next Friday to end the regular season.
Springfield (16-3, 9-2) must beat visiting Fairmont on Tuesday and have Centerville defeat Wayne to share the National East title with Wayne. Centerville is out of the division title chase.
Springfield and Wayne should be seeded 1-2 in Sunday’s Division I sectional meeting to determine bracket placing, although who’s No. 1 is now a toss-up.
Springfield was on a late-season 2-3 slide and needed a win of this magnitude to reassert itself along with Wayne as the area’s top D-I programs. The Wildcats were up to that challenge, shutting down Wayne from the start and maintaining a lead throughout. Rodgers, out much of the season while recovering from an ankle sprain, flawlessly directed Springfield’s offense.
RaHeim Moss, another Wildcats junior who’s having a breakout season, went on a dunk-fest and added 12 points. Larry Stephens, yet another junior Wildcats sub, added 11 points. Leonard Taylor, who signed to play football at the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, added nine points.
It was the first time in a long time UC football coaches weren’t there to woo Taylor.
“Springfield did a great job handling the pressure and they had some young guys step up,” first-year Wayne coach Nate Martindale said. “They deserve the credit. They were tougher than we were.”
Darius Quisenberry led Wayne with 21 points. L’Christian “Blue” Smith added 14.
Smith appeared to pull Wayne within two on a bucket with less than two minutes left. But the shot was nullified when he was called for carrying the ball. Smith was soon hit with a technical foul and Taylor converted a free throw and layup on the resulting possession.
“It was crazy,” Rodgers said. “This is going to give us a lot of confidence going into the tournament.”
Tecumseh 51, Indian Lake 50: Clay Mastin hit three 3-pointers and scored 19 points as the host Arrows dodged the Lakers. Easton Lewis added 16 points for Tecumseh (4-16). The Arrows have gone 2-2 since snapping an 11-game losing streak.
Kenton Ridge 72, Bellefontaine 66: The host Cougars (14-5) won their seventh straight game and remain tied for second place with Shawnee in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division (9-3). Jonathan Alder (16-4, 11-1) clinched the title by edging Shawnee 38-37.
• The boys sectional seed meetings are Sunday. Springfield High School will host one of three D-II sectionals. Trotwood-Madison (17-3) will be a certain No. 1 seed. Other teams in the field are Bellefontaine, Ben Logan, Carroll, Graham, Greenville, Kenton Ridge, Meadowdale, Northridge, Northwestern, Shawnee, Tippecanoe and Urbana.
Greeneview, Northeastern and West Liberty-Salem are in the D-III sectional at Northmont. Catholic Central will contend with Franklin Monroe as the No. 1 seed in the D-IV sectional at Troy. Other area teams in that field are Cedarville, Emmanuel Christian, Southeastern and Yellow Springs.
Girls sectional play begins next week and boys one week after that.
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