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Boys Basketball: Tuba and Springfield in tune for overtime win

Springfield's Mike O'Donnell, left, seen in a game against Penncrest last year, helped lead a Cougars charge Tuesday night in a win over Haverford. (Pete Bannan - MediaNews Group)

HAVERFORD – The tuba’s sliding toot – the second one, the one that drew the technical foul assessed to Haverford’s bench during Michael Hoey’s free throw in overtime – could’ve soundtracked the general offensive performance at Jeunger Gymnasium Tuesday night.

Instead, it was the death wail of a trend that has bedeviled Springfield all season.

Behind Hoey’s suffocating defense, Springfield gutted out a 41-34 win in overtime at Haverford, their first victory of the season in a game decided by single digits. It came with the Cougars (7-10, 6-5 Central) shrugging off what for all the world looked like the story beats of a team destined to see its misery continue: A four-point lead evaporating in the final minute, around a pair of turnovers and the first basket of the game by Haverford’s Googie Seidman, banked in off glass with 2.7 seconds left.

But the Cougars persevered, upped their energy for OT and re-secured the shackles on the Fords by limiting them to two overtime points to banish their close-game demons.

“As soon as we came into this game, everyone was like, ‘if we’re going to win this, it’s going to be defense,’” Hoey said. “It was 15-15 at the half, so we knew it was going to be a defensive game.”

The trend had seemed implacable: Springfield’s previous six wins all came by double-digits. In games decided by single-digits, the Cougars were 0-6, all decided by seven points or fewer.

It would take something special to end that rotten luck, and the source was defense. Seidman, who entered the game averaging 19.2 points per game, scored just five points. He didn’t hit a basket until that runner off the backboard in the final minute and shot 2-for-11 from the field.

The normally potent two-man game on high screens, run by the dual dribble-drive/shot threats of Seidman and Tommy Wright, found precious little room. Springfield big Colin Treude hedged screens high, and the Cougars collectively ran Seidman off the line.

“Treude was awesome,” Hoey said. “Knowing you have help makes it so much easier because you can stay with your man and you know if you get beat, you know you’re going to have help, and you get back on them and they get back to their guy. It makes offense tough for their team.”

Haverford, which averaged 6.1 made 3-pointers per game entering the game, shot just 3-for-9 from beyond the arc.

“They forced Googie off the 3-point line, which I thought they did a pretty good job of, because he’s unstoppable from the 3,” Wright said. “They forced us off our comfort zone a little bit on the 3.”

That’s how Haverford (8-8, 4-7) went from 12 points in the first quarter and a seven-point lead to just two baskets in the next 13 minutes of action. The Fords stayed in it with their excellent defense, a fundamentally sound team approach that denied Springfield cutting lanes or easy post entries, ensuring even when they did score, it took time and effort to work for the open look.

Haverford trailed 23-20 after three quarters, and while a Wright 3-pointer tied it at 25 with 5:35 left in regulation, Springfield hit right back. Mike O’Donnell, averaging 15.1 ppg but limited to 10 on just five field-goal attempts, hit a 3-point play, then Hoey followed it with a lay-up to make it 30-25.

With the season they’ve had, the Cougars didn’t assume that would be enough. Nor did they think it when Jake Adams hit two free throws to make it 32-28 with two minutes left.

Kevin Gannon hit an elbow jumper with 12.7 seconds left. And when Springfield couldn’t beat the five-second clock to inbound, Seidman drove to the rim to send the game to OT even at 32.

Any here-we-go-again echoes were quickly evicted from the huddle.

“We have had some tough games and a buzzer beater and stuff, but I feel like our energy is always high,” Hoey said. “And we give it everything we have.”

A Treude triple put Springfield up for good in OT. He tallied nine points, orchestrating offense out of the high post. Hoey added nine, and Luke Biancaniello had a pair of second-quarter 3-pointers on the way to seven points. Aidan Kreydt supplied two points, seven rebounds and an emphatic OT block of Seidman.

Wright led Haverford with 12 points and three steals. Seidman had four assists, and Brian Weiner added seven points.

Seidman took a back-door lob from Wright to get Haverford within 35-34 early in OT. But Biancaniello and Hoey did enough at the line – no thanks to the offending tuba, for which Springfield was confusingly awarded a one-shot technical that was missed – paired with a steal and score from O’Donnell to close it out.

That left the Cougars dancing to a different tune.

“It definitely feels good,” Hoey said. “It helps us keep pushing and keep pushing. It gives us more confidence the next time it gets low.”

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