Early in the first quarter, McCullough called a timeout to rally his team.
“I was not happy with the effort,” McCullough said. “It’s funny because my college coach at San Jose State (Phil Johnson) called a timeout with like two seconds off the clock because something really bad happened. I learned from him: ‘Let’s fix it right now and not let it happen again’. I’ve done it more than once this year to get their attention.”
Springboro tied the score at 22 on a 3-pointer by Trent midway through the second quarter. Springfield fought back to take a 34-29 lead on a 3-pointer by Johnson right before halftime.
In the third quarter, Springfield turned up the pressure defensively, causing turnovers that led to easy buckets. The Wildcats outscored the Panthers 30-15 in the period.
“We turned on the press in the second half and they just didn’t handle it well,” McCullough said. “I say it every time, but my guys are bought into what I’m selling. We had a really good week of practice. It went well. They played hard.”
Muhammad and Johnson each scored nine points in the third quarter to help the Wildcats pull away.
“All these kids want to live to play another day,” McCullough said. “They’re really getting after it.”
Every player scored for the Wildcats in the victory, which was capped by a Barnes dunk late in the fourth quarter.
“Everybody was cheering on the sidelines,” McCullough said. “We had a lot of fun tonight.”
Fourth-seeded Springfield (9-10) advanced to play No. 7 West Carrollton at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Centerville. The Pirates (14-5) won the Miami Valley League Valley Division championship this season.
“I know they play hard and I know they defend really hard,” McCullough said. “(Anthony Parker) is a really good coach. He’s part of that Rocky Rockhold and Trotwood umbrella. I know they’ll play really fast and try to speed us up. I don’t know that much about them. We’ll get back to work in practice, do our homework and figure it out.”