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Springer boys basketball uses late run to beat Wilson

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
Springer's Malik Brown drives past a group of Eagles on Friday night. Brown scored a game-high 19 points as the Cardinals tallied a 53-39 win over Wilson.

SPRINGER — The free-throw line doesn’t always play a big role in a game, but other times it can be the difference in a win or a loss. That was the case Friday as the Springer High School boys basketball team used the charity stripe to pick up a 53-39 victory over Wilson.

“The free throws tell you how physical of a game it was,” said Cardinals head coach Caleb Fulton. “We stepped up and hit some free throws that we had to have in order to win it. Playoffs are not too far away as the district pairings came out today. We have to be able to make free throws.”

Springer went 20-of-31 from the charity stripe, while the Eagles finished 7-of-14. And most of those shots came in the second half with the game on the line.

The Cardinals held a 40-37 advantage with 5:17 remaining in the fourth quarter and the momentum up for grabs. Springer made sure to take control as Mickey Hunnicutt's three-point play with 5:03 on the clock was the start of a 13-0 run.

That was plenty for the Cardinals to pull away as Wilson couldn't score again until 1:07 left in the game.

“We played (Thursday) night, so I don’t think we had our legs,” said Eagles head coach Teresa Johnston. “We missed some easy give-me shots and then we had a couple of defensive mishaps. They shot 31 free throws and we shot 14. That’s a big difference-maker in the ball game. But if we make some of the chippy shots – they rimmed in and out.

“We’ve been in quarantine,” Johnston continued. “We practiced on Wednesday and then had a game last night. We have to get used to playing back-to-back and just being back in the gym. It’s crazy this year.”

But despite losing, the Eagles gained Fulton’s respect after a gritty performance.

“Wilson is really physical,” he said. “I thought they did a good job against us with that 1-3-1 zone. They just have tough-minded and physically tough kids. They played well.”

So did the Cardinals, as Malik Brown led all scorers with 19 points, while Hunnicutt and Cory Leu each chipped in 13.

On the other side of the scorebook, Caylen Fulton paced the Eagles with 14, followed by Collin Wharton with nine and Axson Hunziker with seven.

Wilson (3-4) is back in action Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Healdton Bulldog Bash, while Springer (11-3) hosts Maysville at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19.

“We’re getting better constantly,” Caleb Fulton said. “That’s the plan. We want to be playing our best basketball in the second weekend of February.”

Beau Bearden can be reached at bbearden@gannett.com or on Twitter @ArdmoreitePreps.