Girls Basketball: Springfield tops Catholic Central

Catholic Central’s Ayanna Doolittle dribbles with pressure from Springfield’s T’erra Eubanks during a nonconference game on Monday night at Jason Collier Gymnasium. Bryant Billing/Contributed
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Catholic Central’s Ayanna Doolittle dribbles with pressure from Springfield’s T’erra Eubanks during a nonconference game on Monday night at Jason Collier Gymnasium. Bryant Billing/Contributed

Springfield and Catholic Central’s girls basketball teams are both in the midst of rebuilding efforts. Though Springfield won a nonconference matchup 52-38 on Monday night, there were plenty of signs of progress for both squads.

The Wildcats (3-16) lost their first nine games, but Monday’s win was their third in the last month. Springfield coach Darris Gattis said the team is far improved since losing the first two games of the season by a combined 55 points.

“What we’re trying to do now is to teach them how to win,” Gattis said. “They know how to compete… We got better last season and have competed more this year. Even though the record doesn’t reflect it, they compete every game.”

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The Wildcats have 27 players on their junior varsity and varsity teams, while Catholic Central has eight players in its whole program. Central trailed by as few as four points in the second half, and for coach Brandon Peterson, that’s a step in the right direction.

“Our five starters played the whole time,” Peterson said. “Coming in here against a Division I team with the numbers we have, I’m proud that they left it all on the floor. We’re just continuing to progress. The whole season, the focus has been to keep building.”

Catholic Central (2-16) scored the first four points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 22-18, but the Wildcats quickly regained momentum.

Caralyssa Byrd hit a basket to get the Wildcats started, and MaKayla DeArmond followed with a basket and two foul shots during a 6-2 run. The Wildcats increased their lead to 34-23 by the end of the third, then scored the first seven of the third quarter to put the game out of Central’s reach.

Springfield put a full-court press on Central for much of the game, which caused turnovers and led to layups.

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“We like to press so they have that attitude of attacking, striking and not giving up,” Gattis said. “Even if we’re playing a better team and we’re down by 40, we’ll still press.”

All three of Springfield’s wins have come against Clark County opponents. Now that the ‘Cats are able to beat area teams, Gattis said the next step is beating Greater Western Ohio Conference opponents. With 10 varsity players set to return next season and an eighth-grade squad that’s posted a 13-2 record this season, that goal should be within reach.

“If we have a good season off AAU and shootouts and good offseason conditioning, we’ll be fine,” Gattis said. “I like what we have here. They’re good girls and good students and they enjoy basketball. With that eighth grade piece coming in, we’ll be very competitive next year.”

Byrd led the Wildcats with 22 points. Taylor Baker led the Irish with 15, and Madison Rice scored 10. Baker is the team’s only sophomore, and the rest of the players are freshman.

“We basically have a reserve team playing varsity,” Peterson said. “All our girls have really matured. To be able to play with a team that has 15 players on the bench is amazing for us.”

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