As its senior leader, making certain that Springfield regains a winning touch is personal to Ryan Minney. Doing that at former No. 1 Northmont on Friday night would make it that much better.
Minney scored a team-high 11 points and the Wildcats did everything Northmont couldn’t for most of the game. But when it mattered most – crunch time – an old bugaboo bit the Cats.
“As long as we don’t have letups, we’ll be good,” grimmaced Minney following an energized 66-60 Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division setback. “We just have to learn how to finish the game.”
That’s been a problem of late for Springfield, which fell to 9-8 overall. The Wildcats have also dropped three of their last four games to negate a 6-1 season start.
But there was plenty to build on as the regular season winds down. Freshman center Darius Harper continued to impress with 10 points. Kamartay Curry worked well with Minney in the backcourt and added nine points.
The Cats are nine deep with no drop off from the starters. And they had Northmont staggering and playing catch-up for most of the game.
What Springfield didn’t have was a handle on Northmont senior Dominique Stollings. He nailed five treys and tallied a season-high 26 points after going for zero in a loss at Beavercreek the previous game. He was the difference in Northmont (12-4) snapping a three-game losing streak.
“We beat a good team,” Northmont coach Jim Brown said. “That team is dangerous. They have Minney, who is as unguardable as anybody in our league. You catch them on a night when they make shots and you’re in trouble.”
That’s what Springfield is hoping to do with five games remaining in the regular season. The Wildcats have no shot at a Central title, but landing a stunning postseason knockout or two would make up for a lot of late-game disappointments.
“It only goes up from here,” shrugged Springfield coach Isaiah Carson.