Sports Zone, Springfield

Crater gets physical to sweep SHS: No. 1 Comets, No. 3 Millers combine for 65 free throws

SPRINGFIELD – Friday’s game between the No. 3 Springfield Millers girls basketball team and top-ranked Crater was everything it was expected to be – physical, fast, and often-times frantic as the two teams battled for 32 minutes before Crater came out on top 58-56.

“Early on we didn’t handle it real well, but I think we responded as the game went on,” said Springfield coach Joe Williamson of the physical play. “I felt like, for a little bit there, that was our game and we just let it go. We let it get away from us because we couldn’t stop their penetration in the paint for a three- or four-minute stretch.”

As Williamson noted, the Millers led for most of the middle part of the game, leading by three at halftime and one heading into the fourth quarter. The final quarter had all the intensity of a state championship game, with three ties, three lead changes, and five players fouling out.

“I know if I was just watching the game, I would think it’s a great girls basketball game. It reminded me of our game at state with how physical it was,” Williamson said.

Last year’s game was at the state semifinals, a game Springfield won 70-55 to move to 3-0 on the season against Crater. That semifinal had 53 combined fouls (33 against Crater, 20 against Springfield), and Friday’s game was nearly as physical as the two teams shot a combined 65 free throws.

Springfield’s free-throw shooting was one thing that kept them in the game despite turning over the ball 23 times. The Millers shot 21-of-28 from the line (75%) and Crater went 21-of-37 (57%). Diamond Wright (24 points) and Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam (21 points) scored 45 of Springfield’s 56 points to lead the way, and Crater’s Sage Winslow had a game-high 27 points.

Crater’s win (17-1, 7-0 Midwestern League) gave the Comets three things: The season sweep over the defending champion Millers (12-7, 5-2) after a 59-49 win in early January; prime position for the Midwestern League title; and likely the No. 1 seed going into the postseason.

“We gotta stay healthy, because even tonight, some players are playing a little banged up. So we just need to make sure we’re healthy going in. I thought since we played Crater the first time, we’ve really come a long way and built some chemistry,” Williamson said. “We just need to keep building on that so that at the end of the season our chemistry is where we want to be, we’re executing, and we’re ready to play.”

That said, as the defending state champs, the biggest target will likely still be on Springfield’s back, and they want another shot at Crater – no matter the stage of the playoffs.

“We just know that it’s not gonna hurt us or anything. We know that we’re gonna probably meet again in the state tournament, because the chances of that happening are pretty good,” Williamson said. “I think (our players) feel like if we get another shot (at Crater), you know, we can win. I felt like we could’ve done that tonight.”



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