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Springfield boys basketball team coming together at right time

2/13/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School boys basketball team has suffered through the loss of two key players at different times this season, but head coach Steve Shaffer said he likes the way the rest of his squad has stepped up to fill the void.

Springfield has an overall record of 8-11, but Shaffer said the record is a little misleading due to prolonged absences by senior forward Victor Dorsey and senior guard Jake Kitchen.

“It’s been a tough season in some ways,” the coach said. “We were missing Vic [for the first 11 games], but right when he came back we lost Jake to a dislocated kneecap. We’ve been without Jake for three weeks. So our record isn’t where we thought it would be coming into the season – we had really high expectations – but, considering everything, 8-11 is not too bad. We’ve been in a lot of close games, and if we had Vic and Jake from day one, I think we’d be in a position with the top teams.”

Shaffer said he likes the way his team has been able to play through adversity this year.

“It’s always been something this season, but the kids have really handled it well and stuck together,” he said. “They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do, and we’re starting to see the benefits later on in the season.”

According to Shaffer, some younger players on the team have been able to get valuable experience and have capitalized on the opportunity.

“Because Vic’s been out half the season, a lot of these younger guys had to get some minutes they might not have been ready for, but it’s starting to pay off,” he said. “They’ve got 19 games under their belt, and they’re starting to play really well together. The mistakes are starting to be minimized and our morale is high. We’ve won three in a row, and everything’s good. We just got a really good win over Chippewa [Feb. 11], so I’m pretty happy about that. Sophomore Elijah Bell stepped up and played big. Michael Perkins has helped us out as a senior, and junior Joey Campbell and sophomore Ronnie Dawson have stepped in and played key roles in what we’re doing.”

In addition, Shaffer said, senior forward Shane Robinson has been the team’s leader on defense.

“He’s rock solid defensively for us,” the coach said. “He’s played a key role.”

Shaffer said the team will be even better once Kitchen returns to the lineup.

“Once we get Jake back, I’m really looking forward to making a run at the end of the season and into the tournament,” he said. “I think just getting him back will give the kids a huge lift. He’s an emotional leader, and he leads by example. He’s really handled his injury well — especially in his senior year, to have an injury like that — but he’s handled it really well.”

Dorsey’s return already has provided a boost, Shaffer said.

“Victor has just played unbelievable offensively,” the coach said. “He gets a lot of attention and he’s averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds a game. He’s really kind of shouldered the offensive load.”

A surprise contributor this season, Shaffer said, has been point guard Alex Constantino.

“He was our junior varsity point guard at the start of the season, and now he’s starting for varsity,” he said. “He had 18 the other night against Crestwood and hit some clutch free throws against Chippewa to seal the game.”

Springfield has three games left on its regular season schedule — against Norton, North and Ravenna. The team’s first tournament game will take place at Norton Feb. 26, and Shaffer said his players are ready to see how they stack up.

“We’re making progress and we’re winning games. We’ve got a nice little winning streak going and it feels good,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the postseason. We’d like to make a little run, and I think when we’re healthy we can compete with anybody. I like my squad and I have a lot of confidence in them.”

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