Isiah Carson is hungry. He’s ready to eat at the table of December when his Springfield Wildcats were compiling a 7-1 record.
Since the Wildcats lost at home to Beavercreek on Jan. 3, Carson is starving to see his team play like it did in December when it beat teams like Wayne and Northmont. The Wildcats have won three straight since the Beavercreek loss, including a 65-54 victory at Tecumseh on Tuesday night, but not the way Carson wants.
“Hungry, hungry, hungry,” he said. “I’m talking about relentless. We’ve got the quickness to do it, and we’ve shown we can do it. “
Carson is talking about the kind of 32-minute defensive effort it will take to feel satisfied when January ends.
After a trip to Meadowdale on Saturday, the Wildcats put their 3-1 Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division record on the line at Wayne (3-1), against Northmont, at Centerville (3-1) and at Beavercreek (3-1). The Wildcats are ranked No. 5 in Division I in the area power rankings behind Beavercreek, Wayne and Centerville.
“We continue to play like this, we’re going to get burned,” Carson said. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get hungry again.”
The Wildcats did (10-2) did pressure the ball in the backcourt to limit the Arrows’ 3-point attempts and hold them to five made 3-pointers. Tecumseh (10-3) averages almost seven treys a game. The Wildcats also came at the Arrows with full-court pressure in the second quarter when their lead grew to 14 before settling at 34-25 at halftime.
When the Wildcats built that lead it was with non-starters Anthony Freeman, Da’Shon Cordell, DeMarco Cannon and Andrew Colletti, who just joined the team after sitting out half the season because of the transfer rule.
“Whoever’s hungry is going to play,” Carson said. “I’m going to give everybody a shot.”
The bench combined for 25 points. In addition, Derick Yarbrough scored 13 points in his first start at forward. Yarbrough started because Guy Victoria, who also plays football, just transferred to Wayne. Henry Alexander was the only Springfield starter in double figures with 13 points.
“Da’Shon Cordell gave us some great minutes, Anthony Freeman gave us great minutes,” Carson said. “The new addition, Andrew Colletti, was really strong tonight. I like what he did.”
Roger Culbertson tried to prepare his Tecumseh team for the defensive pressure he knew it would face.
“We can’t mimic it in practice,” Culbertson said. “I put seven guys out there on the floor, and it’s just not the same till you get out there and play against that quickness and strength and speed.
“On the offensive end we needed to take better care of it and get into our offense a little more. They just get out and take you out of things.”
Tecumseh has lost two straight after a 10-1 start, but Culbertson is not worried about how his senior-dominated team will respond. The Arrows are 3-2 in the CBC Kenton Trail behind once-beaten Tippecanoe and Bellefontaine. The goal of a league title is within reach.
“We’ve got a good group of kids, so it would be hard for me to believe that we don’t come back and play a better caliber,” Culbertson said. “We’ve got five league games left and we’ll try to focus our kids toward that.”