By Bill Mullaly
The huge battle on Wednesday night between Big 8 Conference rivals Springport and Concord
was a crucial mid-season contest played in the Yellowjacket home gym. The game was postponed one
day due to the bitter cold weather in the area that canceled school for both teams. The two local rivals
finally got going in the warmth of the Yellowjacket home court and the fans were ready for the anticipated showdown. The Concord hoop team had one thing going for them that Springport didn’t and that is they have superstar Mekhi Wingfield. The senior knocked down 34 points and scored his 1,000th career point. This helped Concord come away with a critical win by a 79-44 margin. This win helped them continue on their quest to go unbeaten in the Big 8 Conference as they now are 7-4 overall and 5-0 in the conference. The Spartans came in at 7-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference with hopes of an upset win. Wingfield would have none of that as he took over the game and turned things into a rout.
The Spartans are keyed by a youthful bunch of players that include four freshmen with three of
them starters. They gave it all they had but they were no match for the Yellowjacket squad.
“People talk about how youthful Springport is and that is true,” said Concord head coach Marcus
Gill, who noted his own team is also very young. “We start three sophomores a freshman and Mekhi.
Springport started three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior. We both are very young but we are
fortunate that we have Mekhi as he is just a difference-maker when he is out there.”
The game was relatively close early on as the Spartans were hanging tough and making Concord
play their best ball. “They hung with us pretty well in that first quarter, but we got going after that,” said
Gill, who was pleased with his team’s overall performance. “After the first quarter we really got going and
we took off from there. We played very good on defense, and we hit shots and we put this one away
early. This was a total team win.”
The Yellowjackets led 19-11 after the first quarter in a warm gym that didn’t have the crowd that
was expected mostly due to there having been no school since last Thursday and with the bitter cold
temperatures outside. “I think with good weather and playing on a Friday night that perhaps we could
have had more fans at the game,” said Gill.
Wingfield hit for nine points in the first period and sophomore standout Jett Smith added five as
Concord took the eight-point lead after one quarter.
Springport had five different players score in the opening quarter led by Braydon Hawes with four
points. The Spartans shot 10 free throws in the first quarter and made half of them.
The second quarter was the undoing for the Spartans as they were only able to score three points
against a stout and pesky Yellowjacket defense that swarmed all over the Spartans from the start of the
second quarter through the final horn.
“To beat good teams like Concord we have to be mentally tougher and physically dialed in for the
full 32 minutes,” said third-year Springport head coach Logan Neill, who was disappointed in the
outcome. “With our young team and the youth that we put on the floor I knew that was going to be a real
challenge the entire season each night out there. The game versus Concord saw us unable to play a full
32 minutes and that got the best of us.”
Hawes made a free throw and Brody Baum scored a bucket and that was it offensively for the
Spartans in the pivotal second quarter.
Wingfield scored 10 more points and Smith added five more as they were the two lone Concord
scorers in the second quarter. The Yellowjackets went to intermission on top 34-14. “We just really got
after them on the defensive end and we made things uncomfortable for them and that was our game
plan,” said Gill.
Not much changed in the second half as Wingfield played like he was a man among boys as he
scored 12 more points to give him 31 for the game. Concord had taken a lead of 55-28 after three
quarters as they had Springport doubled up on the scoreboard. The Yellowjackets had four other players
score in period three as this was a true team win. The Spartans had three players score in the third
stanza led by five points from Hawes.
The only suspense starting the final quarter was when would Wingfield get his 1,000th point. He
needed 33 going into the game to get to the coveted mark.
In the first minute of the final quarter, he drove the lane, scored and got fouled. This gave him his
1,000th career point. The game was stopped and the Yellowjackets took a timeout. “We wanted to
recognize him and acknowledge his great career accomplishment,” said Gill. After the timeout Wingfield
made the free throw to finish the game with 34 points and 1,001 for his current career total. Wingfield
came into the game averaging 23 points a game.
Both coaches emptied the benches to get as many players on the floor as possible. Junior
sharpshooter Jordan Medellin added nine more points for the Yellowjackets as he hit three 3-pointers in
the fourth period. Smith would score seven more as five different Concord players got into the scoring
column in the final stanza. For the Spartans eight players scored points in the fourth quarter.
Wingfield led all scorers with 34, while Smith added 20 and Medellin had 14. Tyreke Brown
scored six, Connor Stevens had three and Carter Arbuckle scored two.
For Springport it was Hawes leading the Spartans with 11 points as he was their lone double-digit
scorer. Jake Kregel added seven, while Gabe Rainey and Baum scored six apiece. Dallas Higlemire
scored four and Talan Collier added a bucket. Three other Spartans made a single free throw as 10
different players scored.
Concord had an unbelievable 15 made 3-point baskets led by Wingfield with five. Medellin and
Smith each had four. Springport made four long shots with Hawes and Rainey both making two.
The Spartans were 18 of 30 at the foul line, while Concord was six of eight. Higlemire, Baum and
Kregel are all freshmen for the Spartans.
The 7-4 Yellowjackets head to Union City on Friday to take on the Chargers who are 4-1 in the
Big 8 Conference. If UC wins they will move into a tie for first place with the Yellowjackets. Springport will
host Quincy on Friday as they are now 7-4 overall and 2-3 in the Big 8 Conference as both teams
reached the mid-way point of the 22-game regular season.