A strange start for Springfield on Thursday night turned into what is becoming a familiar offensive performance for the Wildcats.
The start was marked by two pre-game technical fouls on the second-seeded Wildcats. A quick 3-pointer meant a seven-point deficit against No. 18 Troy. But Springfield owned the rest of the game and rolled to a 67-43 second-round sectional victory and into Saturday’s 7 p.m. final against No. 4 Sidney, a 68-62 winner over Springboro.
The Wildcats’ quickness makes them difficult to defend man-to-man. So Troy (10-13) played zone defense like the scouting report recommends. The Wildcats (15-9) have seen so much zone that they’re starting to attack it better with better ball movement for open jump shots and driving lanes.
“They’ve grown big-time,” Springfield coach Isaiah Carson said. “We’re starting to become shot makers and not shot takers. It’s much better when your getting open looks than when you’re taking contested looks. Our guys are starting to figure that out.”
David Sanford made three 3-pointers and scored 13 points, RaHeim Moss scored 14 points on two 3-pointers and strong drives to the rim. Larry Stephens did a lot of the same for nine points and forward Raymans Cole battled inside for 10 points.
“We’re carving up zones now — I love that — because we’re patient and we’re getting great shots that we’re comfortable taking,” Carson said. “Our guys are mastering that now.”
The Wildcats also dominated on the defensive end by stopping penetration, forcing jump shots and challenging shots inside. After the first seven points, Troy scored only 14 points over the next 20 minutes.
“We’re going to do what the refs are going to reward,” Carson said. “They don’t want you to reach, so we’re not going to reach. They don’t want to necessarily go up and block every shot, so we’re going to wall up. We’re going to do everything we can to do things the right way.”
One of the technicals was on Moss for dunking in pregame warmups. He spent the first quarter on the bench, but returned in the second and the Wildcats’ lead grew from 12-9 to 29-12 at halftime.
“I feel like I’m the motor of the team,” Moss said. “I came in the second quarter ready to play.”
The other technical was assessed for how the Wildcats entered the playing floor. They jogged through Troy’s warmup to the other end of the floor to warm up. Carson said his team has done that before and not been penalized.
“How we’re treated as a program and how our kids are treated is very disappointing because we’re good kids too,” Carson said. “We work hard and we do things the right way too. It just is what it is. We’ll keep playing hard and keep trying to do things the right way, and hopefully we’ll be rewarded for it.”
The next reward could be earned with another trip to districts in a rematch with Sidney of last year’s thrilling sectional final at Centerville. Springfield won when it forced Sidney star Andre Gordon into a difficult shot at the buzzer. Gordon, who will play at Virginia Tech next year, scored 45 points (17 in the fourth quarter) against Springboro, which was led by Garrett Powell’s 23 points.
The Wildcats are hoping to get senior guard Jalan Minney back for Saturday’s game. He has hit in the mouth in the first quarter Thursday and left the game to get stitches.
Meadowdale 76, Northwestern 46: The Lions join Thurgood Marshall (D-II) and Stivers (D-III) in representing the Dayton City League in sectional finals following their win at Springfield. Meadowdale (12-11) will play No. 1 seed Trotwood-Madison (22-2) in a D-II sectional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Springfield. Trotwood advanced with an 83-38 defeat of winless Greenville.
Preble Shawnee 48, Bethel 46: The Arrows extended their postseason success at Northmont after ending the regular season on a four-game losing skid. Preble Shawnee (11-13) will play No. 1 seed Anna (22-2) in a D-III sectional final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Northmont. Anna advanced with a 66-25 defeat of Northeastern in the second game of the doubleheader.
Jackson Center 54, Bradford 11: Aidan Reichert had 14 points to lead the Tigers at Piqua. Top-seeded Jackson Center (19-5) will play Shelby County Athletic League rival Russia (16-8) in a D-IV sectional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Piqua. Russia advanced with a 68-50 defeat of Fairlawn in the doubleheader opener.
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