Isaiah Carson could tell his Springfield High School basketball team was sluggish during warm-ups.
With school canceled due to the frigid temperatures on Tuesday, the Wildcats spent most of the day inside before their game against Cincinnati Princeton later that night, Carson said.
“I told my guys during warm-ups that the crowd wasn’t what we were used to, so we would have to build our own energy,” he said. “I even sent them back out earlier than I normally do because I told them we had to get going.”
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It took awhile, but the Wildcats finally found their rhythm in the second half, pulling away from the Vikings for a 59-48 nonconference victory.
“We looked like we had been laying around all day, but we got it together and we got it done,” Carson said.
RaHeim Moss led the Wildcats with 20 points, while David Sanford added 13 as Springfield improved to 9-4 overall.
The Wildcats were stuck on two points for nearly the entire first quarter until Sanford nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut Princeton’s lead to 9-5.
In the second quarter, Springfield put the pressure on the Vikings, forcing turnovers with a full-court press. The Wildcats outscored the Vikings 14-5 in the period to take a 19-14 lead into the locker room.
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“Our defense is what’s gotten us (to this point),” Carson said. “It’s not because we’ve been shooting lights out all year offensively. We’ve got some guys that’s capable, don’t get me wrong, but we’re not going to rely on that. You can’t make every shot every night, but you can control your energy and effort and that’s we rely on.”
The Vikings quickly tied the game at 19, but Springfield erupted for 15 points in the quarter to take a 34-27 lead. Moss had nine points in the quarter, while teammate Larry Stephens hit two key 3-pointers, his only points in the game.
Springfield led by double-digits throughout the fourth quarter, hitting 12-of-18 free throws to seal the victory.
“When you don’t play well and you still figure out a way to get it done, that’s a sign of a very, very good basketball team,” Carson said.
Springfield has won five of its last six games. The Wildcats lost to California powerhouse Prolific Prep 69-50 at the Flyin’ to the Hoop tournament on Saturday.
The Wildcats are 7-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East Division . They resume conference play on Friday night at Springboro (5-9, 1-6 GWOC National West).
A massive game at Division I top-ranked and unbeaten Cincinnati Moeller (13-0) looms on Saturday night, but the Wildcats’ focus will be on Springboro the rest of the week, Carson said. The Crusaders beat Springfield 65-44 in a D-I regional semifinal game last season on their way to winning the state championship.
“We’re only talking about Friday,” Carson said.
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