CORVALLIS – The No. 1 Springfield Millers took down Midwestern League foe No. 5 Crater 70-55 in the semifinals at Oregon State University, advancing to the State Championship game for the second year in a row. It was Springfield’s third win over Crater this season, though the first two were by five points each.
“I’ll take the win, I would have taken it if it was a one point game or a 20 point game,” said Joe Williamson, Springfield coach. “Both games that we played them this year, we got out to a lead at some point and then gave it up. But today, we were able to stop that surge.”
It was a slow start for the Millers, who were down 12-8 after the first quarter thanks to 9 turnovers caused by a Crater press. It took until 6:03 left in the second quarter for Springfield to truly come alive. Down 16-13, Springfield finished the quarter on a 21-2 run, heading into half up 34-18.
“We really started passing the ball better, started moving quicker, and our players were cutting into the space better,” Williamson said of the run. “We weren’t playing scared, so once we got out of the trap we could make the next pass and then the next pass and get easy buckets.”
Getting out of the traps was the key all game for the Millers. Crater utilized a press for most of the game, causing 29 Springfield turnovers, although Crater did have 28 of their own. The big key for Springfield, Crater’s press also put multiple key players in foul trouble.
“They got into foul trouble, but they’re very aggressive. So teams that are very aggressive, they run the risk of getting in foul trouble,” Williamson said. “I thought our guards did a really good job being aggressive and putting (Crater) in a position to commit those fouls.”
The third-quarter was competitive, with Crater making multiple pushes to get back into the game, bringing the lead down to seven multiple times. Springfield pushed back each time though, and extended the lead to 20 at the end of three thanks to a buzzer-beating three-point from JB Robinson, who led the Millers with 25 points on the night.
The big lead, combined with Crater’s foul trouble, proved insurmountable, as Crater never got within 12 points in the final frame, with Springfield closing it out 70-55. Robinson also had 9 steals to go along with her 25 points, while Danaeja Romero-Ah-Sam had 11 points and 5 steals. Abigail Winslow led Crater with 14 points, while Sage Winslow had 8 points, 6 steals and 5 assists.
The Millers played in the early afternoon game, and got to watch the late-afternoon game that saw No. 6 Crescent Valley lock in its spot in the finals, meaning Springfield gets a grudge match from last year’s finals. Williamson, unaware of who the exact opponent would be during the interview, said that he learned from last year’s finals loss, and will have his team better prepared this time around.
“We’re gonna have our players better prepared than we did last year. We had three late games last year,and I felt like it kind of messed with our preparation and our ability to scout,” Williamson said. “This time, we have all afternoon and evening, so we’re gonna spend a lot of time making sure that our players are as prepared as possible.”
The Springfield vs. Crescent Valley rematch will kick off Friday at 5:45 p.m., with the winner taking home the state championship.