Centerville, Ohio — After a pair of close one and two point wins over Springboro in the regular season, the Springfield Wildcats knew they would be in for a battle in this first round matchup.
In his first season as head coach for the Wildcats, Shawn McCullough led his team to a 8-10 record along with a huge road win at Wayne which was a big reason the ‘Cats were given a four seed in the tournament.
McCullough was the head coach at Thurgood Marshall last year but after he left for the Springfield job his team disbanded. His former players went on to have big seasons though. Anthony McComb had an extremely dominant season at Trotwood, Chanze Amerson killed it at Dunbar, Mekhi Elmore went off alongside Rayvon Griffith at Taft, and Prophet Johnson went on to win GWOC player of the year at Wayne.
The fit for McCullough at Springfield couldn’t be any better. The culture he’s building should translate into the record books in the next couple seasons as the Wildcats will be a top contender in the GWOC year in and year out for some time to come.
Another coach in his first year at a new school is Brett Kostoff. The former La Salle associate head coach is in his first year at Springboro. Only graduating two seniors, the Panthers should be another team on the rise in the GWOC as Kostoff is also building a good culture at ‘Boro.
Springfield star Josh Tolliver was questionable coming into this game after dislocating his finger during a scrimmage against Tippecanoe the night before. Tolliver ended up appearing in the starting lineup but was in obvious discomfort during the game. Springboro star Sam Feldman was not allowed to play due to COVID restrictions but was still allowed to sit on the bench during the game.
McCullough would burn his first timeout a minute into the game as he wasn’t happy with his team’s effort as Kahleel Trent put ‘Boro up 2-1 with an easy backdoor layup. A pair of buckets from both Vincent Fisher and Eddie Muhammad would give Springfield the 14-8 lead, but a Kahleel Trent three right before the end of the quarter would bring Springboro back down just 14-11 at the end of the first.
The second quarter was about as back and forth as you can get. Tryon Barnes and Springboro freshman Maxim Butler exchanged layups. Then Kahleel trent exchanged threes with Delian Bradley and Josh Tolliver. Tolliver and Butler each hit layups but the difference at the half came when Delian Bradley snatched an offense rebound and kicked it out to Micha Johnson who drilled the deep three right before the buzzer. This gave Springfield a 34-29 lead heading into halftime.
Eddie Muhammed wasted no time in the second half as he got a pair of steals and six straight points to put Springfield up 40-29. Muhammed then forced another Springboro timeout as his corner three put the Wildcats up 47-31. A pair of layups from Delian Bradley extended the lead to twenty. Then Micha Johnson hit two threes. The second one he shook the defender and then was fouled for a four-point play. The Wildcats led 64-44 heading into the fourth.
The final quarter was more of the same as Delian Bradley, Vincent Fisher, and Micha Johnson all forced turnovers which led to easy transition points. Tyron Barnes put the exclamation point on the Wildcats’ 85-55 victory with a big slam to finish off the Panthers. Springfield will advance to take on West Carrollton on Tuesday at 5 pm at Centerville high school.
Micha Johnson (Springfield/G/2022): Micha Johnson is a solid guard for Springfield who utilizes his catch and shoot ability and driving ability very well. Johnson can also create space for himself very effectively which was shown in his pair of threes including an and-one three.
Eddie Muhammed (Springfield/G/2022): Muhammed has hit big shots all season long including the game winner against Miamisburg. He came up big in this win with a great defensive performance turning in multiple steals and a lot of second chance points.
Kahleel Trent (Springboro/G/2021): Kahleel Trent lit up Springfield on Friday. His quick release is tough for defenses to guard and he hit multiple threes en route to a 20 point performance.
Maxim Butler (Springboro/G/2024): Maxim Butler is one of the more intriguing freshman in the Dayton area. Playing on a rebuilding team, Butler got a large amount of minutes this season. He drives the ball effectively and has a lot of confidence in his shot for just being a freshman. He should be a nice piece for Brett Kostoff for years to come.
Tyron Barnes (Springfield/G/2023): Barnes is a player that saw some time on the floor last year as just a freshman and his role has increased this year. He showed off his athleticism with the only dunk of the night at Centerville. Barnes is a solid guard for this Wildcats team and should have a bright future for Springfield.
Delian Bradley (Springfield/G/2022): Bradley is a division one level basketball prospect as he currently holds multiple division one offers. He did a nice job of finishing off fastbreak opportunities for the Wildcats on Friday. He’ll be a nice part of McCullough’s team for next season as well if he decides to play basketball again.