In the area's top matchup on opening night of the high school boys basketball season, Bowsher's new blended roster still looked to have plenty of questions, while visiting Springfield had all the answers in a 54-46 non-league victory.
The Blue Devils got 17 points from senior Chester McFadden, one of four players in double figures for Springfield, which took the lead at 15-14 late in the first quarter and never lost it.
"I'm very proud of our guys," 25th-year Springfield coach Tim Reiser said. "We knew Bowsher was tough, and they have a lot of good athletes. We prepared all week to handle their pressure.
"This is a good win for us tonight. It kind of shows us where we're at before we start [Northern Lakes League] play next week."
Junior guard Leroy Alexander added 12 points and eight rebounds, senior guard Dontai Renfro had 11 points, and senior forward Jeremy Weemes, a transfer from Toledo Christian, added 10 points in his Devils debut.
"Coach told us, ‘Don't get too high, and don't get too low,' " McFadden said. "We just followed the game plan, played together as a team, and got the win. That's all that matters."
Bowsher has merged the talents of its top varsity returnees — All-City senior standout Robert Davis (25.5 scoring average last season), and junior forward Mookie Mustafaa — with four transfers from the former Libbey High School, plus junior point guard Kharri Dailey, a transfer from St. Francis de Sales.
"It's going to take time, and we knew that," second-year Bowsher coach Joe Guerrero said. "I thought Springfield played well, and we always seemed to get in a bad matchup trying to guard them. They were able to take our guys to the basket.
"It seemed like every time we got it inside we got a good look, and we were pretty darn good, but we were 3-for-19 on 3s. We shot ourselves out of it tonight. That played right into their hands."
Two of the Libbey imports played well, as Lonacy Utley had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Maurice Birdsong came off the bench to add six points and eight boards.
Bowsher's Lonacy Utley takes the ball to the basket past Springfield's Jeremy Weemes. Utley had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Rebels.
But Davis, in his new role as a scorer-distributor, struggled to a 5-for-16 shooting output (11 points), including 1-for-7 from 3-point range, part of the Rebels' overall 3-for-19 showing beyond the arc.
"Robert is in a tough situation," Guerrero said. "He's been told he has to be more of a playmaker this year and get other people involved, and that's completely opposite of what he was able to do last year.
"It's going to take time, but we're going to get it going, and Robert's going to be fine."
The Rebels' last lead came at 14-13 on Milan Mabry's free throw with 1:57 left in the first quarter, and Springfield went ahead for good on two Renfro free throws with 1:29 left in that period.
Ahead 20-16 entering the second quarter, the Devils used an 8-3 run to start that period, with McFadden scoring all eight points.
Springfield, which led 30-23 at halftime, watched its lead shrink to one point (33-32) midway in the third after back-to-back buckets from Davis, and the Rebels seemed to have grabbed the game's momentum.
But Reiser called a timeout, and his Blue Devils responded with a game-breaking 11-0 run. When Renfro capped that surge with a 3-pointer, Springfield had a 44-32 advantage with 1:46 still remaining in the third quarter.
"In the timeout we told them that we wanted to be patient and get a good shot," Reiser said. "It was a credit to our point guard, Quinton Green, for controlling that for us. We were able to settle down and get some key buckets from Chester McFadden, and Leroy also did a nice job of controlling the offense."
Bowsher got no closer than five points from there.
Springfield was 20-of-41 (49 percent) from the field, including 5-of-12 on 3-pointers. The Rebels were 18-of-55 (33 percent) from the field and out-rebounded Springfield 39-27. Both teams had 18 turnovers.
"This feels good," McFadden said. "They're supposed to be a good team in the City League, and we came in here and knocked 'em off."
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com or 419-724-6461.
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