CLAYTON — With a 12-3 run to open the fourth quarter Northmont overcame a 20 point deficit at home Friday against Springfield to cut the Wildcats lead to 57-46 with 4:58 remaining.
After a Northmont timeout Jason Biggs came up with a steal in the Wildcats’ back court and dished the ball outside, but his teammate couldn’t handle the pass and the ball went off his hands and out of bounds. From there Springfield went on an 8-0 run for a comfortable 19 point cushion and the Thunderbolts never recovered, scoring only one additional point as the Wildcats went on to win 71-47.
“I was proud of how we played tonight,” said Northmont Coach Collin Abels. “The first time we played them at their place when we got behind we tried to play uncharacteristically of who we are. Tonight we stayed more in tune offensively and defensively of what we are trying to accomplish. We had a couple of runs, one in the third quarter and then another at the beginning of the fourth where we put ourselves right in position and we just couldn’t come up with the stops that we needed defensively.”
During Northmont’s fourth quarter run Springfield’s 6-foot-9 senior center Darius Harper picked up three consecutive fouls in a two minute span to foul out to give the Thunderbolts a golden opportunity to attack the hoop. Instead, the T-Bolts blinked and stayed outside, which proved to be a fatal mistake.
“Offensively I thought we got a little jump shot happy, especially when the big kid fouled out,” Abels said. “I felt like we should have gone right at them and attacked the basket but we settled for jump shots a little too much. But, I’m not discouraged or disappointed. I’ve got three seniors that I love to death. They are great kids and have come a long way and have done a lot of positive things for this program.”
Abels pointed out that depending on the outcome of the Wayne vs Centerville game, his team could potentially finish in a tie for second place in the Central Division of the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
“We are talking about a program that has only won one GWOC Central game the last two years, and this year we have a winning record and a second place finish in the division,” Abels noted. “I just feel like each year the program is making strides and getting better, and that’s the most important thing. Not only are we making progress on the court, we have some kids that are doing some wonderful things off the court as well and that’s all you can ask as a coach. If they are good students, good human beings and in turn good basketball players – that’s just gravy.”
Danny Davis led Springfield with 28 points including six treys, four in the first quarter. Mike McKay had 16 with two 3-pointers in the first eight minutes of play. Jarell Taylor paced Northmont with 14 while Jason Biggs had 13.
Springfield’s fast start coupled with Northmont’s inability to capitalize on its fourth quarter run gave the Wildcats all the ammunition it needed to secure the victory. Springfield improved to 14-6 overall and 5-4 in division play while Northmont ends regular season play at 12-10 and 6-4 in central play. The Wildcats have two more regular season games remaining; Saturday against Wilmington and Wednesday vs Beavercreek, both at home.
Northmont will face Bellefontaine in the first round of the Division I sectional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. at Vandalia-Butler.
“We are going to face a Bellefontaine team that is gritty and hard nosed in order to advance to face Springboro and then you have to go through Springboro to face Springfield again,” Abels added. “This time of year the importance is day-to-day operations… staying in the moment, because if you get caught looking ahead that’s when you get in trouble. We are going to walk in here Tuesday morning and start getting ready for Bellefontaine. If two weeks from now we are playing Springfield that means we’ve done some good things.”
SPR 26 37 54 71 – 71
NMT 11 22 34 47 – 47
Springfield: Mike McKay 16, Brayden Underwood 7, Kalus Arnold 2, Danny Davis 28, Leonard Taylor 2, Antwuan Johnson 8, Jeremiah Ward 2, Darius Ward 6, Totals: 25-13-71.
Northmont: Jarell Taylor 14, Myles Tanner 8, Jabari Perkins 2, Christian Wilson 3, Rodney Richardson 1, Vinson Walker 4, Arius Spears 2, Jason Biggs 13. Totals: 18-7-47.
3-point goals: Springfield 8 (Davis 6, M. McKay 2); Northmont 4 (Biggs 3, Taylor).
Records: Springfield 14-6 (5-4), Northmont 12-10 (6-4).
JV Score: Springfield 53, Northmont 39.