CORVALLIS – The No. 1 Springfield Millers girls basketball team took down No. 6 Crescent Valley 44-29 in the State Championship game Friday night behind a swarming defense that held CV to 31.4% shooting on the night. The win also secured Springfield revenge over CV after losing in the same matchup in last year’s finals.
“Personally, it’s my first state title, so this is really special for me,” said Joe Williamson, Springfield coach. “All these girls, it’s their first title too, and that’s pretty special for them. There’s a pretty good basketball tradition at Springfield, and I think it’s good to get another bracket put up in our gym.”
It was a similar slow start to the finals as Springfield’s semifinals game, with the Millers going down 7-1 in the first three minutes. Williamson took a quick timeout though in order to settle the team down.
“It was similar to (the Crater) game with how we started slow,” Williamson said. “We called that timeout, and had to get after them a little bit …. Once our defense got going we felt pretty good about things.”
The timeout worked as intended, with the Millers going on a 9-2 run in the first quarter. Crescent Valley hit a three in the final minute to retake the lead 12-10 at the end of the first.
The second-quarter was just as competitive, with three lead changes, including a steal and score by Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam with a minute left to give Springfield a 21-20 lead heading into half. Romero-Ah Sam led all scorers with 17, and added 6 steals.
The third quarter was all Springfield as the Millers held Crescent Valley to 2 points the entire quarter. CV’s Molly Campbell tied it at 22 with 6 minutes left, but the Millers ripped off 11-straight points after that to head into the final frame up 33-22.
“I feel like that is from us in practice working on our cardio, and working on our transition, and I think that helped a lot,” Romero-Ah Sam said of the difference in energy between the teams in the second-half.
Up 11, Springfield utilized a stalling tactic on offense in the fourth-quarter, forcing Crescent Valley to play more aggressive defense than usual. Although normally a fast-paced team, Springfield was able to shorten the game with the tactic.
“Crescent Valley is a good team, and we didn’t need to give them any extra possessions to get back in the game,” Williamson said. “So I felt it took away possessions from them, and then it was also pulling their defense out. That really hurt them because they had to come out and play us way higher than they wanted to, and I thought that gave us something, and they had to start fouling us.”
Crescent Valley never got within single-digits, and Springfield’s JB Robinson hit four late free-throws to clinch the teams first girls basketball state championship since 2012. Robinson, a sophomore transfer from Georgia, finished the game with 16 points.
“I saw the whole thing go down last year and I know how personal this game was for (the team),” Robinson said.
For the Millers, it was a perfect ending to a storybook season, starting and ending the year as the No. 1-ranked team in the state.
Stat leaders for Springfield: Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam with 17 points, 6 steals, 4 rebounds. JB Robinson with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals. Alexi Morgan with 3 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks.
*Catch the full coverage with stories, pictures, and more in next week’s edition of The Chronicle.