Roger Culbertson tried to prepare his Tecumseh team for the defensive pressure he knew it would face Tuesday night against Springfield.
“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.”
The Wildcats, sparked by good bench play, forced 22 turnovers, built a double-digit lead in the second quarter and kept the Arrows playing from behind for a 65-54 victory.
Springfield (10-2) pressured 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 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.
“On the offensive end we needed to take better care of it and get into our offense a little more,” said Culbertson, whose team was led by Dalton Davis’ 16 points. “They just get out and take you out of things.”
Springfield coach Isiah Carson was not happy with his team’s effort in the first half and at other times.
“Not pleased, not pleased at all,” he said. “We’ve got to get back to the basics. Squeaking out wins is always a good thing, but we’re better than the way we’re playing right now.”
When the Wildcats built their lead it was with non-starters Andrew Colletti, Anthony Freeman, Da’Shon Cordell and DeMarco Cannon on the floor.
“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.”
Colletti, a transfer from Greenon, had to sit out the first half of the season by rule. This was his first game.
“He just wanted us to get in there, rebound, play hard defense, get up in them and try to outwork them,” Colletti said of the bench contributions.
Despite some of Carson’s frustrations with the lack of hunger he has seen in the past four games, he said his team’s defense in the final few minutes was a little more like it. But he said his team leaders need to lead more with a tough stretch of conference games next.
“We did what we had to do, but when you go up in this GWOC Central and you try to turn that switch on, it’s going to be too little, too late,” he said. “I call it the light switch. We think we can turn it on and off when we want.”