Anyone who has seen Bowling Green senior guard Brock Hastings’ shooting touch knows he would have no problem knocking down a 26-foot game winner when Springfield defenders left him wide open.
As cool as a cucumber, Hastings set himself where he had a good look at the basket, and his triple with two seconds remaining found nothing but net, giving BG a 60-58 Northern Lakes League victory over visiting Springfield Friday.
BG’s Brock Hastings with the deep three pointer for the win over Springfield. 60-58 final. pic.twitter.com/8te0c3y1ZB
— JD Pooley (@pooleyjd) February 11, 2023
That was not the original plan when BG called timeout with 7.5 seconds remaining, but BG coach Mason Roth said that was an option.
“The plan was to go downhill and get to the basket but the guy laid off me, so I took the opportunity to take the shot and it went in,” Hastings said.
Hastings hit four triples for the game, including three in the second half, and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line in scoring a game-high 26 points. It was only fitting that a senior would have such a big night during BG’s Senior Night.
“Brock is a great player. There is no way around it,” Roth said. “Brock has bought into what we ask him to do.
“That’s exactly what we drew up, from the white line (volleyball line), but players make plays. We put them into situations, but at the end of the day they have to make the shots and Brock hit a couple big ones for us tonight.
“That’s what he’s good at. We talked about the dog in him. He’s got a little fight in him, and it showed right there.”
Springfield coach Kyle Linehan said the Blue Devils should have been better prepared for what was coming.
— JD Pooley (@pooleyjd) February 11, 2023
“We probably could have done a little better job on that last possession forcing Brock into a tougher shot,” Linehan said. “It’s a meat-grinder day-in and day-out. You never know. You’ve got to bring your best.”
Hastings’ game-winner capped off an 18-8 fourth quarter comeback for the Bobcats after trailing 50-42 at the end of three.
Springfield went on a 14-0 run as BG went through a six-minute scoring drought from the final minutes of the second quarter into the third, and the Blue Devils led 39-24 just two minutes into the second half.
However, the Bobcats kept chipping away, closing the gap to three, 45-42, when Hastings hit a triple on a dish from senior guard Evan Brandt with 20 seconds remaining in the third.
However, two technical fouls whistled against BG with no time left on the clock at the end of the third put Springfield back on top by eight entering the fourth.
BG, which had no turnovers in the final stanza to Springfield’s four, only led once in the fourth quarter before Hastings’ game winning shot when junior guard Jake Amspoker scored on a baseline drive, giving the Bobcats a 57-56 lead with 32.8 seconds remaining.
Springfield senior guard Jordan Combs was fouled trying to put up an eight-foot floater, and his two free throws put the Devils back on top, 58-57, with 18.9 seconds remaining.
Once BG got the ball downcourt, Amspoker tried to hit a long three, but 6-foot-5 senior forward Dominic Bracey swatted it well out of bounds and into the BG student section with 7.5 seconds remaining, setting up Hastings’ game-winner.
BG shot just 25% from the field in the first half (6-for-24) but was 15-for-23 (65%) in the second half, finishing at 21-for-47 (45%). The Bobcats connected on a total of seven triples.
Amspoker scored 11, Brandt had 13 points, a team-high nine rebounds and two steals, and junior guards Ahmir Ruffin and Reece Rath scored four points each with Rath hitting two consecutive 15-foot jumpers late in the third quarter to spur the comeback.
Jabari Conway, a 6-8 senior forward, had three points and seven rebounds and junior guard Brayden Freyman matched Conway with three points.
BG was 11-for-13 (85%) from the free throw line and had 10 turnovers to the Blue Devils’ 12. Springfield owned a 30-26 edge off the glass.
Combs led Springfield with 16 points and five rebounds, senior forward Eddie Merrell III had 12 points and four caroms, and senior guard Will Mays scored 12 points.
Bracey had a double-double 11 points and 10 rebounds, senior guard Robert Franklin Jr. had three points and five rebounds, senior guard Tanner Whitmire scored three and senior guard Marcel Pringle Jr. added one point for the Blue Devils.
Springfield shot 43% (18-for-42) from the floor and made 18-of-23 (78%) from the charity stripe.
For BG, it was their second straight win over an NLL team that was in the hunt for a league title just a week ago. Tuesday, the Bobcats defeated Sylvania Northview, 63-60.
“We were down 15 against both teams in the second half,” Roth said. “That shows how our guys are maturing. Probably a month ago we lose that game by 20, but we’re starting to buy in. We’re starting to see it, we don’t give up and we keep fighting until the end.”
Hastings added, “It’s huge. I mean, we’re going into the playoffs with a lot of confidence right now. There is nothing else you can really want than going in with a few wins.
“We’re playing the same good Northview (Division I tournament, Feb. 24 at Lakota, 6 p.m. tipoff), as they always are and we’ll see what we do.”
BG, 9-10 overall and 6-6 in the NLL, still has three regular season games remaining before the tournament. Springfield fell to 13-7 and 8-4. Linehan was not totally surprised by BG’s comeback.
“You can tell that’s why BG was picked in the preseason to finish third,” Linehan said. “They’ve got talent, they can knock down shots. We watched them against Southview, and it was unbelievable — their shot making ability.”
Roth chose to start his five seniors, Hastings, Conway, Brandt, 6-6 forward A.J. Clemens and 6-3 forward Antoine Wiggins Jr., in honor of Senior Night.
“We worked hard all year,” Hastings said. “We had a little adversity going into these last few games, but we were able to put it all together and come out for the senior class, and it feels great.”
Roth added, “They are just great guys. They are great kids to be around. They’re all smart kids, they’re all great kids, and just a fantastic group of people.”