SPRINGFIELD -- The game wasn't on the original schedule for Springfield High's basketball team camp, but those who stuck around for Thursday's finale between Springfield and French Settlement got a preview of two teams that will compete in District 10-2A next season.
And it was quite the game, too.
French Settlement's Bryant Johnson hit a pair of free throws with 10.3 seconds left, and Dawson Marlow pulled down a rebound at the buzzer after Springfield missed the potential game-winning shot, giving the Lions a 40-39 win at the Springfield gym.
"We made just enough plays tonight -- I think we had a 3-0 lead to start the game and that was it -- and then right there at the end of the game," French Settlement coach Chase Delrie said. "Man, 10 (Johnson) is tough. I've been here just a short amount of time, but it hasn't taken me long to just pick up the heart and the effort that that kid has."
"Chase Delrie is one of my good friends, and of course, I know he wanted this win more than anything, but we're still trying to figure out some things," Springfield coach Antonio Broadway said. "We're trying figure out the right subs, the right positions for guys. We've just got to get fundamentally sound. That's the biggest thing that I see."
French Settlement, which trailed by as much as 13 points in the first half, cut the lead to 39-38 with 1:31 on a pair of free throws by Johnson.
Following a missed shot by Springfield, the Lions pulled down the rebound but turned the ball over and committed a foul. The Lions pressured the Bulldogs on the in-bounds pass, creating fouls multiple times before Isaiah Netter missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
The Lions came down with the rebound, and Johnson was fouled while driving to the basket. He sank the free throws to give the Lions the lead, and the Bulldogs worked the ball down the court. Trey Martin missed a shot for Springfield, and Marlow brought down the rebound to seal the win.
"Last game (a 1-point loss earlier in the day) we had the same situation," Johnson said. "I had to hit the 3, and then we had to defend the possession, so the thing that was going through my mind was 'Make the free throws, and let's repeat and learn from what happened last game.' Last game, we gave it up, we made a bad turnover and they wound up winning at the buzzer. This time, we defended it, I wouldn't say 'good', but it worked. And then we held on to the ball and we won. We learned from our mistakes, and we ended up coming out on top."
Springfield did most of its damage inside as Bryce Johnson scored 9 points and Mikail Brown added 6 during a 21-11 run to open the game as the Lions struggled from the field.
Netter's 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs a 24-11 lead before Marlow hit a pair of baskets to cut the advantage to 24-15 at halftime.
French Settlement hit five shots from the field (including two 3-pointers) and hit three free throws in the first half.
"One thing that we're going to have to do is shoot the ball well," Delrie said. "I think as we get more structured and get more organized and get to play together a lot more, I think opportunities will continue to present themselves, and we'll be more efficient."
Meanwhile, Springfield played without guard Isaiah Jackson, who nursing a sprained ankle and is being held out for the remainder of the summer.
"Isaiah is definitely our floor general," Broadway said. "That's an extra 18 points that you leave out on the floor. He makes us go. He makes everything go. He communicates. He talks to our guys (and) tells them where to be when they're not in position. With him not being there, it's definitely a loss at this point."
"It's only June," Broadway said. "Hey, we've got a lot of time. Next month, we're going to work on some one-on-ones, fundamental things with these guys, especially with the new transfer we got Beau (Husser from Ponchatoula). We kind of want to use all our bigs at one time and utilize those guards and just let Isaiah be the playmaker."
But the tables turned as Micah Gill's steal and layup capped an 8-0 run by the Lions to start the second half and cut the lead to 24-23.
The Bulldogs, however, responded with a 9-3 burst, which was capped by Martin's 3-pointer, and Brown's basket later put the Bulldogs up 37-30.
From there, the Lions turned up the defensive pressure, as Miguel Sheppard scored 4 points and Bryant Johnson 2 in a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 37-36.
Bryce Johnson was fouled and missed a pair of free throws, but the Bulldogs later got another basket to go ahead 39-36 before the Lions made their winning surge down the stretch.
"The message with 12 seconds left in the huddle to my guys was 'Hey, let's get a stop,'" Delrie said. "You know, come out here, you get one one stop, you play for one possession. You put yourself here with a chance to win. All you've got to do is defend. We were in that same position a few hours ago. You know, let's go make it look a little bit different."