Sports Zone, Springfield

Big second half fuels Springfield victory

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Millers girls basketball took down Silverton 54-39 on Saturday thanks to a smothering press and a strong second half where the Millers outscored the Foxes 30-17. Springfield, preseason No. 1 in Class 5A, beat Silverton, preseason No. 4, for the second-straight time after also eliminating Silverton in the quarterfinals of last year’s playoffs.

“We played a really good Sherwood team last night and competed, and had our chances to win that game. And, let it slip away,” said Joe Williamson, Springfield head coach. “How we responded was going to be important, so really it was the bounce back effort.”

The game started slow for both teams as Silverton led 4-3 halfway through the opening frame. Luckily for Springfield, reigning Class 5A state player of the year Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam got hot and scored 8 of her 17 points in the first quarter, including a buzzer-beating three to tie the game at 12-12 after one.

The second quarter was much of the same, a back-and-forth affair between two of the top teams in the state. Springfield struggled to slow down Silverton’s top player, junior lefty Kyleigh Brown, who scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half. Juju Henderson, an all-state honorable mention last year as a freshman, led the Miller’s in the second quarter with 9 of her 18 total points as Springfield led into half 24-22.

It was the start of the third-quarter that truly flipped the game as Springfield came out in a 1-2-2 press that forced Silverton turnover after Silverton turnover.

“We actually just decided we were gonna come out and play straight man for a while. Kind of looked like a press because we were doing soft man full-court. And then decided in the second half to show something different,” Williamson said. “We used our length and athleticism and didn’t reach … just let our athleticism and length cause some problems.”

The Millers used the press to go on a 6-0 run to start the quarter, and didn’t let Silverton within five points again the rest of the game. Springfield led 36-28 heading into the fourth, and Romero-Ah Sam took over again early in the quarter.

“She’s just tough. I mean, Danaeja is a tough, gritty player,” Williamson said. “She came up big tonight every time they tried to make a run. She responded twice with jumpers, and that’s nice to have a player like that.”

Springfield took a 13-point lead with five minutes left and played the game out from there, going 9-of-14 from the line and taking as much time as possible on possessions. The benches came in with just over a minute left and Springfield won 54-39 to move to 2-1 on the season.

The Millers now look towards another tough opponent on Tuesday as they travel to Wilsonville, who lost to eventual champions Crescent Valley in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

Scoring leaders:

Springfield: Juju Henderson 18 points, Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam 17 points, JB Robinson 12 points.
Silverton: Kyleigh Brown 17 points, Kirsten Kuenzi 9 points.



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