CENTRAL POINT — It wasn’t as if things were going terribly wrong for the Crater boys basketball team during the first half of Friday’s key clash with Springfield, it’s just the Comets found themselves wanting more at Crater High.
Good play then turned into great play in quick fashion during a near-flawless third quarter, with the Comets using a stunning 19-4 surge to take control of the matchup between Midwestern League boys basketball leaders and walk away with an eventual 56-39 victory.
Crater senior Mason Vranes knocked down two of his three 3-pointers in the third quarter and Cade Weaver added six of his seven points in a frame highlighted by efficient execution by the Comets (17-1, 7-1 MWL) and one-and-done moments by Springfield (13-5, 6-2).
“I think a big thing for us in the second half was energy and defense,” said Crater senior Kiefer Edwards. “Our defense really stepped it up and that made the biggest change.”
With the 6-foot-6 Edwards and 6-9 freshman Nathan Bittle (four points, five rebounds, three blocks) holding it down in the paint on the defensive end, Weaver was able to stretch his legs a little and scored on driving baskets on three of Crater’s four trips down the court in a two-minute span.
“I thought Cade Weaver’s spark in the third quarter was just something that was huge for us tonight,” said Crater head coach Chris Schmerbach. “When we get that extra guy going and running things, it just gives us such a lift.”
The third-quarter run started quietly with a free throw by Edwards but quickly gained momentum as Bittle scored off an assist from Weaver. A steal and layup by Jayden Vranes, a 3-pointer by Mason Vranes, a block by Bittle and ensuing layup by Weaver quickly made it a 10-0 run out of the locker room.
Springfield’s Jaden Reynolds, who had a team-high 15 points, snapped the Millers’ drought with an inside basket. But Crater simply got back to it and saw Weaver bookend an inside basket by Edwards with two of his own before Mason Vranes brought the crowd to full throat with a deep 3-pointer for a 9-0 run.
“We just got on a roll and the home crowd really helped us out by getting into the game and giving us energy,” said Edwards, who finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Mason Vranes paced the Comets with 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting, while sophomore Jayden Vranes joined Weaver in scoring seven points.
For the Comets, the win over Springfield moved the team closer to a potential MWL title but, above that, it allowed them to remove the bitter taste from an earlier meeting that saw the Millers earn a 64-45 win.
“We came out a little bit overconfident last time,” said Edwards, whose team was 10-0 at the time, “but this time we had our heads on straight and really played well.”
Added Schmerbach: “It was a pretty important win for us. Against a top-ranked team at home with a good crowd in a position we hadn’t been in in a while, we needed this.”
“We’re going to enjoy this tonight but we’re going to get back to work as soon as we can because this thing is far from over,” added Schmerbach.
SPRINGFIELD (39): Reynolds 15, Breese 12, Brown 10, Jo. Carrillo 2, Hill 0, Alonso-Sotelo 0, Ja. Carrillo 0, Grousbeck 0. Totals: 17 0-0 39.
CRATER (56): M. Vranes 19, Ki. Edwards 17, Weaver 7, J. Vranes 7, Bittle 4, Stollings 2, Horton 0. Totals: 20 13-20 56.
3-point goals — Springfield 5 (Breese 2, Reynolds 3), Crater 3 (M. Vranes 3). Technical fouls — Hill.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry