Springfield puts it all on the line in upset win

WEST CHESTER — If Springfield isn’t the first team to advance in the District One Class AAAA basketball playoffs despite managing just one second-half field goal, they’ve got be the last squad to do it.

The 20th-seeded Cougars’ unconventional 45-42 upset of No. 13 seed West Chester Henderson Friday night was made possible by converting a season-best 25 free throws, including 18 in the second half.

“I would have hoped we had one or two more possessions with a field goal,’ Kevin McCormick, who got the only Cougars bucket in the final two frames, said with a grin. “We just kept turning it over. There were a lot of fouls in the second half. It was an aggressive game. And it came down to defense. When you’re not making field goals you’ve got to get stops at the other end and I think we did that pretty well.’

McCormick scored six of his game-high 13 points at the foul line, all in the second half. Teammate Brian McCloskey was 10-for-10 at the charity stripe, sinking all six attempts in the second half for the Cougars (14-9), who next take on Plymouth-Whitemarsh, a 73-33 winner over Cheltenham.

“We’ve got to start playing at our speed, play at our pace, get our shots,’ McCloskey said. “But we focused the whole week on just free throws. We shot them three or four times at practice. And that’s what it came down to … luckily.’

The Cougars tiptoed their way through foul trouble as Quideer Wimes, their 6-4 forward, sat out a chunk of the second half due to foul trouble. He and Tyler Ramirez, of Henderson, were nailed with technical fouls when they exchanged words as the first half ended.

Jordan Collins, the 6-3 forward who scored 12 points, also had three personals for the Cougars.

While Wimes made 3 of 4 free throws in the final frame, Ramirez drilled back-to-back three-pointers almost from Downingtown to kick-start a furious rally in which the Warriors got four of their last five field goals from beyond the arc. Wes Smith had one of his three treys in that run.

The Warriors (15-8) never led. They trailed by four points after one quarter, by 11 at the half and by a dozen entering the final frame.

After scoring just 18 points in the first three quarters, Henderson erupted for 24 in the final frame, bringing the crowd to its feet.

“We came out strong, hit a couple 3s and got it cranking a little bit more but it was just too little, too late,’ said Ramirez, who had 11 points. “Before that the ball wouldn’t go in. We weren’t boxing out. They were rebounding. They were being positive, we were being negative. I feel bad for our seniors. That’s their last game. We expected to win. But we worked hard. We worked our butts off. We left it all out there.’

Jason Bady’s buzzer-beating trey got the Warriors within three points. The Warriors made 10 of 23 field goal attempts in the second half compared to the Cougars, who missed 12 of 13 attempts.

“What did we have, nine field goals for the game?’ Springfield coach Kevin McCormick said. “Well, thank God we worked on free throw shooting. We knew there was no way they were going to be tentative around our zone in the second half. They’re built on triple-drive motion, trying to get into the gaps. We were taking gaps away pretty well but they were more determined in the second half.’

Wimes pulled down 11 rebounds to go with six points for the Cougars. Point guard Kyle Long didn’t score, but contributed three assists.

Nick Fox scored three points and snuffed Colin Costello, who tallied 10 points for Henderson, on what could have been a breakaway layup.

“I would like to see us control the ball a little more in the second half,’ Coach McCormick said. “But it’s the playoffs. We’re playing Tuesday. We’ll see what happens.’

Whatever happens from here on out the Cougars always can share their story about winning a playoff game by … all together now … netting just one field goal in the final 16 minutes.

If someone had told McCloskey that’s how this triumph would go down, “I would have thought they were crazy.’

“I mean, we’re usually a team that’s making shots,’ McCloskey said. “We usually don’t get to the foul line that much. But today we made it our job to get to the foul line and make our shots.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply