Boys basketball: New coach promises up-tempo style when Wildcats are able to hit the floor

Springfield in holding pattern because of COVID-19

SPRINGFIELD — Shawn McCullough went unbeaten inside Springfield High School’s gymnasium last season as the head coach at Thurgood Marshall, beating his future team last January and later winning a Division II district championship a few weeks later.

The Wildcats new coach is hoping that success can continue this winter.

“It just made sense for me,” said McCullough, who also works in pharmaceutical sales. “It’s a bigger program with resources. I’m in Springfield three or four days out of the week anyway. It was a tough decision, but sometimes you have to make them.”

Springfield’s program saw major success in recent years, winning at least 18 games in five of the six seasons. The Wildcats advanced to the Division I regionals three times and won two Greater Western Ohio Conference titles during that span.

Last winter, Springfield’s basketball program got off to a late start as the football season extended into late November for the first time in school history. The Wildcats were 4-9 on Jan. 21, but won eight of their last 12 games to finish the season 12-13 under interim coach Matt Yinger, who replaced former coach Isaiah Carson at mid-season.

This year, the Wildcats will face even more uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Springfield High School transitioned to virtual learning earlier this month and postponed all sports until further notice.

McCullough, a former Ohio State University and San Jose State University basketball player, was able to implement some of his system during coaching days this summer.

“We’ll play fast, we’ll trap, we’ll defend full-court for 32 minutes,” McCullough said. “It’s going to be something brand new to the GWOC. We’ll play really hard and aggressive on defense for 32 minutes. I think we’re going to be one of the top teams in the GWOC sight unseen.”

The Wildcats graduated several of their top players, including Larry Stephens, Ray Cole and Jalan Minney.

Springfield returns senior wing Josh Tolliver, an All-GWOC second teamer who led the Wildcats at 11.0 points per game.

“We’ve developed a very good relationship,” McCullough said. “We’re excited for everything we hope that’s going to come his senior year.”

The Wildcats are expected to return three other players who saw varsity action, including junior senior Vincent Fisher, junior Delian Bradley and sophomore Tyron Barnes. Thurgood Marshall transfer Kamari Williams and Xenia transfer Shawne Thigpen are also expected to see varsity minutes this winter.

However, the Wildcats are basically in a holding pattern until the situation with COVID-19 clears up, he said. The school district is reassessing the situation each week.

“It’s just tough times,” McCullough said. “I’ve got players ready to get back in the gym. I’m ready to get back in the gym. We’ll really stress being patient and everything is going to work out.”

As the schedule remains up in the air due to COVID, McCullough said the goal will be to prepare for the postseason.

“When it’s time to play, we’ll put a good product on the court,” he said. “We’re hopeful we’ll have a season and play some games. We’ve really been stressing patience.”


  • Josh Tolliver, Springfield: The senior guard led the Wildcats in scoring at 11.0 points per game last winter.
  • Jason Channels, Emmanuel Christian: The senior guard averaged 11.9 points, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals for the D-IV district runner-up Lions last winter.
  • Drew Mitch, Shawnee: The senior forward averaged 12.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last fall, shooting 53.8 percent from the field for the Braves.
  • Jaden Journell, Greenon: The junior forward averaged 13.7 points last season, scoring in double-digits in all but two games.
  • Tyler Galluch, Catholic Central: The sophomore post averaged 10.9 points per game and ranked among the OHC leaders last fall in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and field goal percentage (58.9 pct.) last season.

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