Conant’s Springfield named D-III Player of the Year

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Campbell 66-46 in the Division III championship game at Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday March 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The No. 2 Conant boys basketball team defeated No. 7 Somersworth 75-51 in the Division III quarterfinals on Saturday, March 2, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated ConVal 62-45 on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant and Mascenic varsity basketball teams played a double header, which also acted as a Hoops for Steve fund-raiser, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Conant senior Devin Springfield reached the 1,000-point milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 17th player in school history to achieve the feat.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Conant senior Devin Springfield reached the 1,000-point milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 17th player in school history to achieve the feat.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

If Conant senior Devin Springfield had made a list of goals prior to his final season, it likely would have been short and to the point.

There were very few things Springfield truly wanted to accomplish.

No. 1 would have been his first state championship, which he got with a 66-46 victory over Campbell in the Division III finals on Saturday.

Next likely would have been a win at the Keene State Holiday Tournament —something the Orioles were able to claim with two wins over higher division teams, as Springfield was named MVP. Then it likely would have ended with a couple individual accolades, like his 1,000th point along with one of the highest awards for a high school basketball player in the state.

Springfield hit the 1,000-point career mark in the first quarter of a mid-February meeting with Monadnock and then picked up the Division III Player of the Year award this week after the release of the annual awards by the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Association.

Not a bad was to end a career.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Springfield. “It means all my hard work is paying off. I knew if I played hard, my game would speak for itself.”

After watching the Orioles win the last of five straight championships as a junior varsity call-up his freshman year, Springfield made it his mission to win one of his own.

Conant came up short the next two years, losing in overtime of the quarterfinals to eventual champion Somersworth in Springfield’s sophomore season and then falling in the semifinals a year ago.

So this was it. The final chance for Springfield to get his. His father, David, was part of the first boys championship team in 1985 and his older sister, Brooke, won two in her four years at Conant.

And finally, Springfield got what he so desperately wanted out of his high school basketball career — a championship.

“I knew if I worked hard and put the time in in the gym, that good things would happen,” said Springfield.

The Orioles won seven straight to begin the season, nine if you include the holiday tournament, before falling to Campbell on their home floor on Jan. 14. A loss that Springfield now believes was a good thing for the team.

From there, Springfield and the Orioles were ready for a run at the state title. They won the final nine games of the season, including a 33-point victory at Campbell, and went into the tournament as the No. 2 seed with a 17-1 mark.

Conant would go on to win all four playoff games by at least 20 points with Springfield leading the way in three of the four.

“It’s been basically a miracle season,” said Springfield. “It’s a pretty great accomplishment, but the championship is better than any individual award I could get. The ultimate goal was a championship.”

During the regular season, Springfield either led or tied for the team lead in points scored in 14 of the 18 games, while doing so in both holiday tournament wins.

He collected at least 20 points in 13 regular season games and did so again in the D-III quarterfinal win over Somersworth and the semifinal victory versus Newport.

“I definitely started playing better as the season came to the end,” said Springfield.

And while his scoring dipped in the title game, much because of the defensive focus of Campbell, Springfield still scored 10 points to go along with nine rebounds and five steals in his final high school game.

“I’m definitely going to miss putting on that jersey,” said Springfield.

Entering the season, Springfield was 334 points shy of the century mark for his career and in game 15 of the regular season, he became the 17th member of the 1,000-point scorers club in school history and the first since Jimmy Peard did it during his senior year in 2010.

Springfield needed just seven points against Monadnock on Feb. 13 and with a free throw line extended jumper late in the opening quarter he surpassed the milestone.

When it was all said and done, Springfield finished with 1,167 career points. He is fifth all-time for the boys, behind Scott Baldwin, Keith Johnson, Justen Nagle and just 16 off his father’s total, and tied for eighth overall with 1988 graduate Mindy Stenberg.

For the season, Springfield averaged a team-best 20.9 points per game and also led the way with 3.4 steals and by hitting 61 percent of his shots. He pulled in 5.6 rebounds a contest and dished out 3.1 assists.

He twice scored 28, both times on the road at Stevens and Bow, just two points shy of his career high of 30 set as a junior.

Those are numbers that are hard to argue with.

“I had a great career and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Springfield.

Springfield was a first-team all-state selection last year and finished second in the player of the year voting to Berlin’s Curtis Arsenault. He is the first Conant player to receive the honor since 2010 graduate Sean Martin won the award as a junior and senior.

“I knew I’d have a good chance,” said Springfield of the award. “A few coaches even told me I was the best player in the division.”

When it comes to down to it, Springfield was the best player on the best team. And this award and Conant’s state championship proves just that.

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