Boys Basketball: Springfield heads into new year unbeaten

  • Jeff Gilbert
  • Contributing Writer
Updated Dec 30, 2017
Springfield’s Leonard Taylor (with ball). Springfield defeated host Northmont 71-49 in a boys high school basketball game on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Isaiah Carson’s Springfield boys basketball team got a little extra Christmas on Friday night. Big, fluffy red stockings awaited the players in the hallway outside their locker room. After seeing what Santa brought them, they posed for a team photo.

The Christmas and basketball seasons have been generous to the Wildcats, the area’s No. 1 Division I team in the Dayton Daily News power rankings. They finished December 8-0 with a dominant fourth quarter and an 81-56 victory over Ponitz Tech.

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The new year could be even better. While young guards David Sanford, Jeff Tolliver, Larry Stephens and Jordan Howard have played well in bigger roles than expected, Carson’s deep team will be deeper when the Wildcats return to the court Friday night at home against Lebanon (9-1). Sanford scored 13 and Stephens 12 against Ponitz.

Welcome back Michael Wallace and JaJuan Rodgers, the backcourt duo Carson was expecting to start this season. Carson said both will play against Lebanon. Rodgers started the first game and scored 17 points. Two days later he sprained his ankle at practice and hasn’t played since. Wallace, a returning starter, had a knee scoped just before the season.

“Jeff, he’s a hustler, Bub (Sanford), he’s a nice little point guard that takes great shots and Larry on the other side is a great athlete,” junior forward RaHeim Moss said. “And when those two players come back from injury, we should be great.”

Moss started six games and averaged 6.2 points last year. Through four games his average was 8.7. But he has scored 13, 20, 26 and 26 in the past four games to raise his average to 13.7.

“He’s been locked in the last couple weeks,” Carson said. “He’s playing the way that I thought he would play ever since I lit a fire up under him after the Miamisburg game. He’s been on fire ever since.”

Ponitz (1-8) handled Springfield’s pressure defense and traps for three quarters and trailed 55-49. But the Wildcats’ trapping defense created a succession of turnovers in the fourth quarter that ignited the blowout.

One steal led to a Sanford alley-oop to Moss for a crowd-pleasing dunk and a 63-53 lead. Twenty seconds later Moss drove baseline for another two-handed slam.

“It just pumps me up more, just makes you want to keep going and get bigger plays, get my team involved and have the crowd happy,” Moss said.

Carson credits the play of his young guards with keeping the Wildcats unbeaten. But his big ask of them and the whole team right now is to play the first half with the same intensity that they’ve shown in the second half.

“We’ve got to put together full games, especially with the stretch we’ve got coming up,” Carson said.

After Lebanon, the Wildcats face unbeaten Wayne and a strong Cleveland Heights team at Flyin’ To The Hoop.