Warriors score the first 14 points of the game and never look back in 85-50 win over Springfield.
HUBER HEIGHTS — Springfield entered Friday’s GWOC showdown with unbeaten Central Division rival Wayne after seven consecutive wins. It took less than seven minutes to know that streak was probably over.
Wayne outmanned the Wildcats from the opening tipoff, built a 29-6 lead by the end of the first quarter and ran away with an eventual 85-50 win before a sellout crowd.
The Warriors scored the first 14 points of the game and made their first five shots from the field. Springfield meanwhile didn’t score its first points until three minutes into the game and didn’t score a basket until late in the first quarter. Wayne built the lead in the first with stellar shooting and several blocks, then punctuated it in the remaining three quarters with many steals and lavish dunks.
“We just didn’t come to play tonight,” Springfield head coach Isiah Carson said. “We were a bit timid to be honest. Tonight we just didn’t get it done. They shot extremely well tonight and were difficult for us to defend.”
Springfield’s leading scorer Danny Davis picked up his third foul midway through the first quarter and sat on the bench for the remainder of the half. The Wildcats’ offense picked up a little in the second half, and they narrowed the deficit down to 15 at one point. But the Warriors stretched the lead out to 19 by halftime, and then dominated the third quarter with a 23-14 advantage.
L’Christian Smith led Wayne (10-0, 4-0 GWOC Central) with 20 points, and Rodrick Caldwell scored 18. Caldwell, who signed with Bowling Green last November, didn’t miss a shot in the first half. He scored 10 points in the first quarter and six more in the second to help Wayne build the lead. Head coach Travis Trice said Caldwell’s performance was crucial for the team to build confidence.
“People look at that package of Rodrick being 5-10, but you can’t measure that kid’s heart,” Trice said. “He’s tough as nails. He doesn’t get rattled or frustrated. To be honest, he’s one who would really rather pass the ball and get teammates involved, and we sometimes have to push and encourage him to take shots. I thought he came out aggressive and set the tone with the shots that he hit.”
Trey Landers added 15 points, and Chazz George scored 12, including a thunderous dunk midway through the first. Wayne unofficially shot 32-of-52 (61.5 percent) from the field and outrebounded Springfield 25-23.
“I’m happy with everybody that played for us tonight, from the first guy to the last guy,” Trice said.
Darius Harper led Springfield (8-3, 1-2) with 16 points and nine rebounds. Davis finished with 10 points, six of which came at the free-throw line. Michael McKay, who averages 16 points a game, scored seven against Wayne. He first basket didn’t come until a three-pointer late in the second quarter.
Trice said stopping Davis and McKay was Wayne’s focus on defense.
“Danny Davis is a really great player and a first team all-conference guy without a doubt,” Trice said. “I know he got in some foul trouble which hurt him, but I though Demond Parker did an incredible job defending him. He stayed in front of him, was challenging shots and not fouling him. We asked Rodrick to guard Mikey McKay, and he stayed on him and didn’t give him any free looks.”
It was the largest deficit of defeat for Springfield since a 34-point loss to Beavercreek in Feb. 2012. The ‘Cats will get another shot at Wayne on Feb. 5 when the teams meet again in conference play.
Springfield and Wayne played three teams last season, and the Wildcats lost both regular season games by 20 or more points. When they played in the regional finals last March, Sprngfield led early in the fourth quarter before Wayne mounted a comeback and won by seven. Carson is confident Springfield can learn from Friday night’s loss and play the Warriors better in February.
“We’ll go back to work and back to the drawing board and try to figure some things out before the next time we see them,” Carson said.
Wayne has picked up where it left off after winning the Division I state title last year. Springfield became the latest loser at the hands’ of the Warriors’ well-balanced attack. They also beat Beavercreek, Northmont, Fairborn and Fairmont by double-digit margins last month and then won the Arby’s Classic tournament in Bristol, Tennessee last week.
The undefeated record is a pleasant surprise to Trice. Though Wayne returns two starters and several key bench players, they lost three of their top four scorers, including their two best post players in Ahmad Wagner and Xeyrius Williams. Wagner now plays at Iowa and Williams is at Dayton. Trice said he’s been pleased with how the returnees have adapted and taken over without some of last year’s key players.
“These guys have come along incredibly well in the short amount of time we’ve had since football,” Trice said. “… The (Arby’s Classic) was great for us because we got to play a lot of guys and prepare for teams in a short amount of time. Our guys did a good job of listening, and that’s what those tournament are all about for us…
“We had a week off after (the tournament), and it’s hard to go a week in practice and have to prepare and everything. But thankfully, it was the Springfield game, and it doesn’t take much to get up for that.”
The Warriors return to their home court on Saturday night to play Cleveland St. Ignatius (7-1). Ignatius is rated as the top team in Cleveland in the Plain Dealer’s prep basketball rankings.
“If you look at it, who would put St. Ignatius on their schedule the night after Springfield?” Trice said. “But I want to challenge these guys. These games are where you learn. Can we go on back-to-back nights, can we be in situations who’s had a week off to prepare for us? I know they’ll be ready and prepared, and it’s going to be another great test for our guys.”
The Wildcats will look to rebound from the loss next Friday at Beavercreek.
Springfield was without sophomore forward Leonard Taylor on Friday. Taylor, who averages 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, is at a football combine in San Antonio, Texas.