All it took was for Springfield to get the game to go at the pace it wanted.
And, as a result, Ashland’s double-digit lead quickly evaporated.
Springfield was able to flip a 10-point first-half deficit into a hard-earned 45-43 win over the Ashland High boys basketball team in Midwestern League action at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium on Tuesday night, sending the Grizzlies to their fifth straight loss in the process.
“(Springfield’s) press was the story of the game,” Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky said. “We had a plan for it, the plan was flawed, we changed our plan and we didn’t execute that. I think that changed the game, and by my count we had six unforced turnovers — just passes that weren’t sound — in that third quarter and that was the difference in the game.”
It was certainly a tale of two halves for the Grizzlies, who fell to 5-9 overall and 1-6 in the MWL with the loss.
Ashland — which was again without leading scorer KJ Pippa due to injury — was able to use a 15-3 run to build a 15-6 lead after a 3-pointer by Joseph Wallner-Sentle and an and-1 by Anthony Smith.
That lead stood at 26-16 with less than two minutes to go in the first half after a nifty drive to the basket by Smith, who scored 11 of his team-high 13 points before halftime.
“We made shots,” Osofsky said of the biggest key for his team in the first half. “Breaking down that film (from last Friday’s 50-28 loss to North Eugene), the most evident thing was that we got everything we wanted. No credit away from (North Eugene) because they played really well, they had a plan and it worked, but we got all the shots we wanted and we didn’t come home and think ‘Man, we need to go back and look at how we’re getting shots.’ We felt like we got the shots we wanted — last Friday they didn’t go in, tonight they did (in the first half).”
But thanks to a third quarter where Springfield (8-7 overall, 4-4 MWL) outscored Ashland 16-5, the Millers were able to eliminate every bit of the Grizzlies’ 28-21 halftime lead.
After a 28-point first half, Ashland managed just 15 points after the break.
Springfield finished with just 12 made field goals in the game, but exactly half of those were 3-pointers. The Millers were also 15-23 from the charity stripe.
Two of those Springfield 3-pointers came from senior forward Zach Brown, who hit treys on back-to-back possessions to put the Millers up 35-33 after Ashland had momentarily gotten the lead back.
Brown finished with a game-high 21 points, 14 of which came during the Millers’ second-half rally. Marcell Hall also finished in double figures with 12 points and had three 3-pointers.
Wallner-Sentle added 12 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Ashland hosts Willamette on Friday night, a game where Pippa could make his return, according to Osofsky.
“He’s going to start practicing and we’re hoping for Friday,” Osofsky said of Pippa. “It’s up in the air at this point and it’s based on how he feels. I want him to be ready because it’s a mental thing at this point and there is an injury there still. When he’s ready he’ll come back, but I thought that was the best we’ve played without him tonight. I thought we showed confidence and execution, so that was exiting to see.”
SPRINGFIELD (45): Hill 12, Pederson 0, Carrillo 2, Sorber 4, Grousbeck 2, Vega 2, K. Smith 2, Brown 21. Totals: 12 15-23 45.
ASHLAND (43): A. Smith 13, Wallner-Sentle 12, Ekwall 5, Sanford 4, Saulsbury 3, Sayre 0, Desmond 6. Totals: 16 7-8 43.
3-point goals — Springfield 6 (Hill 3, Sorber 1, Brown 2), Ashland 4 (Wallner-Sentle 2, Ekwall 1, Saulsbury 1); Fouled out — A. Smith.
SPRINGFIELD 62, ASHLAND 40: At Ashland, a balanced Springfield offense proved to be too much for Ashland as the Millers — one of the top teams in Class 5A this season — pulled away to beat Ashland at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium.
With the win and Churchill’s overtime loss to Crater on Tuesday night, Springfield (12-4, 7-1) was able to jump back into a first-place tie with the Lancers after last week’s battle of the MWL unbeatens.
Ashland (5-9, 1-6) was led offensively by sophomore wing Jayd Sollinger, who recorded a team-high 12 points. Junior guard Nina Munson added 11 points.
Senior guard Emma McKenney finished with a game-high 15 points and hit three of the Millers’ four 3-pointers in the game.
Ashland will look to snap its three-game losing skid on Friday night when it hosts Willamette.
SPRINGFIELD (62): Elliott 10, K. McKinney 0, Newell 9, Durbin 8, L. Barraza 4, Chapman 6, Williams 4, E. McKenney 15, J. Barraza 6, Oswalt 0. Totals: 24 10-13 62.
ASHLAND (40): Wilson 4, Sollinger 12, Barnes 4, Gorringe 0, Baldwin 0, Larson 0, Munson 11, Witnauer 2, Rodriguez 3, Abel 4. Totals: 16 6-9 40.
3-point goals — Springfield 4 (E. McKenney 3, Chapman 1), Ashland 2 (Sollinger 2).
Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.