SPRINGFIELD TWP. The search is over.
After four years of tough losses, near misses and disappointing games, the Springfield Spartans dashed their league victory drought with a 36-34 win over Field earlier this month. The program’s last Portage Trail Conference win came over Norton during the 2012-13 season and since then, the Spartans hadn’t been able to break into the victory column in league play.
Fittingly for a team consistently battling to get back on track, the Field victory didn’t come easily or with a lot of aesthetic beauty. Despite committing 22 turnovers and squandering a five-point halftime lead, Springfield found a way to grind out a two-point triumph.
“This win is a big win for this team and this program. We beat a team that had 12 wins up to this point and had beaten Streetsboro and Ravenna this past month and traditionally is successful,” head coach Kevin Pletcher said. “This is raises our confidence even more than it was. We play solid defense and our defense is getting better each week. We have made it very tough on our opponents.”
The win lifted Springfield to 6-14 on the season and 1-11 in PTC play. The final minutes of the game, which was close throughout, provided plenty of drama. Defending a two-point edge, the Spartans overcame turnovers in the final minute and had to make three defensive stops to seal the outcome.
Junior Lauren Thompson was a big part of the reason Springfield was able to edge ahead, having scored five of her nine points in the fourth quarter. Her clutch 3-pointer and another long jump shot accounted for half her team’s points in the final stanza and along with strong rebounding from Ali Karas (eight rebounds), Springfield was able to hold Field to just seven points in the final eight minutes.
When the Spartans finally got the ball back with less than a second left on the clock, they threw it as far down the court as possible, touched the ball to start the clock and in the process, touched off a celebration four seasons in the making.
“They were very excited; some of the girls were even crying, they were so happy,” Pletcher said. “To put the cherry on top this was senior night and we recognized Ali Karas, Alivia Senevoravong, Tiffany Lance and Kathi Kline. This was the best game I have ever been a part of, and I was very happy and proud for the girls.”
The seniors, who had been a part of the ups and downs - including multiple coaching changes - over the course of their time with the program, reveled in the win and although it was meaningful to the entire team, there was added emotion for Karas, Senevoravong, Lance and Kline.
A plus-12 rebounding margin in the game and strong defense were the keys to the win, as they have been the keys to virtually all of the Spartans’ victories this season. Good interior defense made a big difference down the stretch and defeating a team that has been among the PTC Metro’s best squads in recent years proved that Springfield is no longer a team that its league rivals can overlook.
“It gives us the confidence we need to continue compete against all of the other PTC Metro teams,” Pletcher said. “The girls are having fun. They understand what needs to be done to win. They are playing faster, stronger, and more aggressive than they have all season.”
The veteran coach noted that the win couldn’t come at a better time, as it provides a big boost heading into sectional tournament play. After coming close several times over the past four seasons but always seeing victory slip through their fingers, the Spartans scrapped their way to a win they hope will open the floodgates to many more PTC triumphs in the seasons ahead.
As the final buzzer sounded and the celebration began, it put an exclamation point on a senior night worth remembering.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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