Springfield Looks to Maintain Momentum

Written by Bryant Billing January 24, 2014

Springfield has won five straight games and hopes to stay atop the GWOC Central.

HUBER HEIGHTS — Springfield has momentum, and doesn’t want to lose it.

The Wildcats have won five-straight games, the most recent of which in a 69-67 win over Wayne on Wednesday. The game was the second signature win of the season for Springfield, with the first coming in a 65-62 win over the Warriors (11-4) on Dec. 13.

After the first win over Wayne, Springfield fell into a slump. The Wildcats lost the next night to Trotwood by 12 points. Springfield went on to win its next four games by beating teams with losing records, but only won the games by an average margin of four points per game. Springfield then lost to Beavercreek 53-49 on Jan. 3, losing its undefeated mark in conference play and first place in the Central.

Springfield junior guard Dae’Shawn Jackson (left) dribbles around Wayne’s Demond Parker (left) during Springfield’s 69-67 win on Wednesday. Jackson scored 19 points in the game for Springfield. (Top Billing Sports Photo by Bryant Billing)

Springfield has improved since then. The Wildcats have won five straight games, with three of those games coming by a margin of 11 points or more. With Beavercreek falling twice over the last two weeks by one point in conference games, Springfield is back in first place.

Now with a second win over Wayne, the Wildcats hope to avoid a similar slump in the last month of regular season.

“We’ve got to carry this intensity over,” Springfield head coach Isiah Carson said after the win over Wayne on Wednesday. “We’re going to celebrate tonight and get back hungry tomorrow.”

Springfield hosts Northmont on Friday to resume conference play. Springfield beat Northmont in the teams’ first match-up in one of those four wins between losses to Trotwood and Beavercreek.

The Thunderbolts (6-8, 1-5 GWOC Central) led Springfield by ten points at halftime before Springfield battled back in the second half. Junior guard Henry Alexander hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wildcats’ a 73-72 win over Northmont. Alexander also hit a game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left against Wayne on Wednesday.

“We’ve gotten off to slow starts in some games,” Alexander said. “But we’ve came back and we’ve finished. We have veterans on our team and have been playing together for years. We know we can win close games and we know we can come back. We don’t panic when we get behind in games.”

Springfield (12-2) trailed by double digits to Wayne in the third quarter of both games before coming back to win. The Wildcats also trailed Fairmont by 15 points before coming back to beat the Firebirds 69-61 on Jan. 10.

“It starts on the defensive end for us,” Carson said. “It’s kind of hard to come at opponents with our intensity and (pressing defense) for a full thirty-two minutes. It’s hard for anybody to have that intensity… But we’ve come back and we’ve won the games, and that’s a difference from (previous) seasons.”

Carson credits the leadership of Alexander and junior guard Dae’Shawn Jackson for helping the Wildcats’ win the come-from-behind games.

“We have some pretty good ball players,” Carson said. “Those guys aren’t giving up. That what you get with three-year starters.”

Jackson averages 12 points, four rebounds and four assists per game for Springfield. The last play that Springfield drew up against Wayne on Wednesday called for Jackson to shot. Carson credited Jackson for noticing that Alexander was open in the right corner and passing to Alexander.

“That’s my leader, and a player of the year candidate,” Carson said. “That guy’s been working his butt off for the last three years to get this program back into form. He’s one of the biggest reasons why, and it’s starting to pay off for him.”

Springfield freshman guard Danny Davis (left) dribbles against Wayne’s Juan Ford (right) on Wednesday. Davis averages 13 points per game for Springfield and shoots 53 percent from the field.

Jackson said Springfield’s defense has improved drastically in the three years he has been on the team. Springfield finished 6-15 in 2012 and 13-11 in 2013.

“We’ve gotten better as a team and we play as one,” Jackson said. “We’ve been down in games before and we know how to come back. This win (over Wayne) was a statement game for us. We’re not going to back down, we’re going to keep this up.”

Another key to keeping the momentum up for Springfield is the play of freshman guard Danny Davis. Davis, who leads Springfield with 13 points per game, has made a big contribution this season. He scored 19 points against Wayne.

“He’s one of the best freshman in the state and ranked as one of the top three in the state,” Carson said. “He’s a special player. He was guarded by the reigning GWOC player of the year in Wayne’s Juan Ford. He has great poise, the poise of a junior or senior. He doesn’t rush anything; he lets it come to him. Everything is within the offense for him. When he gets his opportunities, he steps up and knocks it down. We almost have to tell Danny to be aggressive. He’s a laid back guy and a very unselfish player.”

Davis said Springfield will keep up its momentum from beating Wayne this time.

“It was tough against Trotwood the day after we beat Wayne the first time, but we know what we’ve got to do to win,” Davis said. “It’s defense, defense, defense for us. We’re going to keep this up by playing good defense.”