Spire Academy’s RaHeim Moss blocks a shot by former teammate Jalan Minney during Monday’s game at Flyin’ To The Hoop. Spire won 78-42 and Moss scored nine points. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Flyin’ to the Hoop: Wildcats fall to former teammate

RaHeim Moss and Larry Stephens spent a lot of Monday’s Flyin’ To The Hoop game guarding each other. No doubt that had happened countless times over the years as Springfield High School teammates in open gyms and practices. This time Stephens was still playing for Springfield, but Moss was playing for the Spire Academy post-grad team.

Several months ago after Moss decided to prep for a year at Spire before starting college he reached out to Flyin’ founder Eric Horstman about the possibility of his new team playing his old team. Moss had played in the event with Springfield and wanted one more game on the Trent Arena floor.

“I said let’s do this — Springfield vs. Spire,” Moss said. “He said send me some rosters and we can work this out maybe. And it ended up working.”

Moss’ new team got the better of it with a 78-42 victory over Springfield even though Moss didn’t have his most productive game. He’s averaging 18 points a game for Spire, but scored only nine. But this was more about the reunion for Moss than anything. After the game he traded jerseys with Stephens and posed for photos. Both of them will be at Toledo next year, Stephens for football and Moss for basketball.

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“To me win or lose it was just fun going against each other,” Stephens said. “It brought back memories. At Toledo we’re still going to be close and still push each other to be better.”

Right now it’s the Wildcats who are trying to get better. They were an uncharacteristic 4-8 going into Tuesday night’s game at Cincinnati Princeton.

“They know what success feels like,” said assistant coach Matt Yinger, who was filling in for absent head coach Isaiah Carson. “They don’t like how they feel. This is unfamiliar territory for us the last five years.”

The Wildcats don’t want to make excuses for a difficult schedule and deep playoff run in football that meant a late basketball start for much of the team.

“We’re at a crossroads right now,” Yinger said. “We’ve struggled a lot, struggled with some team chemistry. Reality is that we’ve just got to come together and trust what we’ve been doing as a Wildcat program.”

Stephens, who scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, considers himself a leader by example, but he said everyone on the team can be a leader in different ways.

“It’s the little things that’s getting us,” he said. “It’s getting back on defense, making the easy buckets, making the simple play, making the extra pass. It’s doing the extra little things to help make us a better team. Right now we don’t have any energy. We’ve got to figure out how to bring our own energy for each other because right now we have to play for each other because that’s all we got. Until we realize that’s all we got, we’re going to keep struggling and struggling.”

Shooting has been a struggle for the Wildcats, particularly in their GWOC losses. Against Spire they shot 29.1%.

“I challenged them today to get some shots up after practice,” Yinger said. “When practice ends don’t just be the first one out the door. Be willing to grind for half an hour. Be willing to get up 100 shots, get up 200 shots.”

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