Isaiah Carson wanted his Springfield basketball players to know how he felt about the way they played Saturday night. So after they shook hands with Prolific Prep, the Wildcats’ opponent at this year’s Flyin’ to the Hoop, he did something coaches don’t usually do before they go to the locker room. He went down the line congratulating his team.
Minutes later laughter could be heard inside the locker room.
“We’re in good spirits,” Carson said. “We went out there and fought. It ain’t like we went out there and laid down. Prolific Prep is a heck of a talented team.”
The Wildcats, whose tallest starter is 6-foot-4 RaHeim Moss, faced a starting front line of 7-0, 6-10 and 6-9 and lost 69-50 in Saturday’s prime-time game at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
“He loved the way we played tonight,” Moss said. “We gave it our all — that’s all we could do. There ain’t nothing better than going out and giving it your all.”
Springfield’s all wasn’t good enough against the team from Napa, California, full of Division I prospects, shot blockers and dunkers. At each Flyin’ to the Hoop, one or two Dayton area teams will play the out-of-state showcase teams. The Wildcats went to third regional tournament in four years last year and got the call this year.
“That’s an honor for us that he had that confidence in us as a Dayton area team,” Carson said. “That shows how far we’ve come as a program.”
The Wildcats (8-4) had an early lead before Prolific’s size took over and pushed the lead to 26-13 and 31-20 at the half. Prolific led 46-33 after three and the Wildcats could never shoot the ball well enough to make a run. They shot 32.8 percent from the field and made only 3 of 25 3-pointers.
“We never shoot that bad, but we got the looks that we wanted,” Carson said. “To beat good teams you have to make shots. Sometimes being really good defensively ain’t enough.”
The other part of the Wildcats’ game is attacking the basket. They settled for a lot of perimeter shots in the first half and didn’t get to the basket as much as they usually do. And when they did a 7-foot Ibrahima Diallo from Senegal was most often the one waiting on them.
Jalan Minney scored 15 points for Springfield and was the only Wildcat making shots most of the first half and made 7-of-16 for the game. Moss was also 7-of-16 with a couple dunks and scored 19.
“We tended to shoot a lot of 3-pointers because we felt like we weren’t going to get a lot of good shots inside the paint with their length being so long,” Moss said. “We just really didn’t attack them a lot tonight.”
Springfield’s difficult schedule doesn’t slow down in the coming weeks with games against Cincinnati Princeton, Cincinnati Moeller and GWOC rivals Wayne, Fairmont and Trotwood. One thing’s for sure: After facing Prolific, none of those teams will look too big to the Wildcats.
“It just builds your confidence because there’s not a team in the state of Ohio that’s that big and lengthy,” Moss said. “So if we could compete with them and held them to a loss of 19 points then we feel like we can compare with and hold anybody.”
• At halftime, Springfield senior David Sanford was named the $1,000 Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop scholarship recipient. Sanford owns a 3.82 GPA and is heavily involved with various Springfield youth programs.