SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield boys basketball team worked almost the entirety of the game to take the lead against St. John of Plaquemine.
Once the Bulldogs got it, it didn’t take long for it to fade away.
St. John of Plaquemine went on a 9-0 run after Springfield tied the game and was hit with a technical foul with four minutes remaining, pulling away for a 66-59 win Wednesday in Springfield.
“You look at us, and there’s no doubt that we play hard, but we just don’t have that extra edge yet,” Springfield coach John Hii said. “We had two field goals in the first quarter. We go through stretches where we’re just bad, and we go through stretches where we look OK. Tonight, those stretches where we were bad were just a little longer than the ones where we were good.”
The Bulldogs, who trailed by as many as 11 in the second half, rallied to take a 53-52 lead – their first of the game -- on Owen Hodges’ putback with just over four minutes to play in the contest.
St. John’s Connor Barber hit a free throw to tie the game at 55, and Springfield’s Brandon Weathersby had a putback to give the Bulldogs a 55-53 lead with four minutes left.
But on the same play, Springfield was called for a technical foul, setting in motion a stretch they unable to recover from.
Barber hit both free throws after the technical foul then completed a three-point play. The Bulldogs missed a pair of 3-pointers, and the Eagles picked up the rebound both times, turning those into baskets. A steal and basket by Galvin Martin put the Eagles ahead 64-55 with roughly two minutes remaining.
“You watch that, and you clearly saw that that was like the wheels came off, and the axels came off and the hubcaps came off and the windshield fell off,” Hii said of the technical foul. “We had all the momentum in the world. I think that was the first lead for us all game, and we talked about it in the locker room how that’s really selfish that we have to show everybody who we are instead of letting the scoreboard do the talking for us, but I believe that it’s a mistake that probably won’t happen again.”
Springfield missed a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch as Bradlyn McKay’s basket stopped the St. John run.
The Eagles went 2-for-4 at the line, sandwiched around a pair of Collin Hayden free throws, to close out the scoring.
Hayden finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Weathersby added 11 points and Hodges scored 10.
St. John led 36-27 at halftime, and the lead floated between five and seven points four times before the Eagles grabbed a 44-33 lead.
Hodges and Jaden Teague hit a pair of 3-pointers to get the Bulldogs within 45-41 before the Eagles led 50-41 going into the fourth quarter.
From there, Springfield began to chip away, taking advantage of St. John turnovers. Matt Grace had nine of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that cut the lead to 52-51 with 5:08 to play and helped set up the go-ahead basket by Hodges, leading to the finish.
“This one of the times where we were able to hit some of the shots to get the game close,” Grace said. “I think we were able to keep our heads in for a little bit until the very end there, (before) making those bad mistakes and stuff. We get something good, and then we just lose it, and it’s hard to get it back from that. Basketball is a game of runs, and once a team is getting runs on you, it’s hard to get back from that and bounce back.”
Springfield trailed 18-7 at the end of the first quarter on Joseph Schaltre’s basket at the buzzer after falling behind 12-1 to start the game.
The Bulldogs trailed 21-7 before the teams went on a run in which they traded five straight 3-pointers, the last of which put the Eagles up 27-16 and resulted in a technical foul on St. John.
Springfield, however, missed both free throws and turned the ball over on the ensuing possession before Hodges hit a 3-pointer keying a run which cut the lead to 29-25.
The Eagles led 33-27, but Chris Holmes was fouled by Grace on an attempted buzzer-beater behind the 3-point line and sank all three free throws with no time on the clock, giving the Eagles a 36-27 lead at halftime.
“They scored at the end of the first, second and third quarters a two, a three and another two, so that’s seven right there,” Hii said. “We turned it over on what should have been easy fastbreak layups. We just continually shot ourselves in the foot, and it came back to bite us.
Hii, however, wasn’t down on his team after the loss, noting the Bulldogs have just one senior and one junior on the roster.
“We’re coming around, it’s just we’re going through the fire,” he said.