East twice had leads of nine points, but the Rams made some defensive adjustments and improved their communication in the second half and never buckled under the pressure.
After Ross (4-0) hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 51, East had the ball with about 90 seconds left and ran the clock down for what it hoped to be the last possession. However, the Thunderhawks missed a 3-pointer from the corner with about seven seconds left, Sam Nunn grabbed the rebound off C.J. Boze’s tip, fired off a pass to Schottelkotte and watched as his teammate made the game-winning bucket.
The Hawks, two-time defending Greater Miami Conference champions, hadn’t lost a game since Jan. 7, 2020, ending an 18-game winning streak.
“Its not typical at Ross that you play top-tier teams like Lakota, Moeller and those guys, so when you get the opportunity you have to make the best of it,” Lane said. “It shows we can play with anyone, that if we buckle down and put our minds to it, we can beat anybody.”
Ross hopes that translates into a successful run in the Southwest Ohio Conference as well. The Rams have not won a conference title in more than 20 years, Lane believes, and that’s the goal every year.
The program has been on the rise since Lane took over in 2017-18. Brian Gunter resigned following a 6-17 finish in 2016-17 and overall record of 18-51 in three seasons, but the Rams put together back-to-back 15-8 seasons under Lane and they finished 17-7 last year. Five of their losses were in-conference last year, as Mount Healthy collected a second-straight SWOC title.
Ross routed Mount Healthy 72-44 the night before beating East. Lane still expects to have to “battle in night in and night out” against the SWOC teams, including the rematch against the Owls, but this team is capable of a title.
“This group is a very special group,” Lane said. “When I started, they were all freshmen, so this is the four-year turn-around, the first group to go through the program, and they’ve just bought into the culture. It’s a special group. None of it would happen without the kids. They work their butts off, buy into what we’re doing, they are responsible. I know they will respond to what I’m telling them. They are unselfish and willing to do whatever they need to as a team to win, and it’s starting to show and I think people are starting to recognize how special this team can be.”
The Rams are led by Nunn (16 points, 7.3 rebounds), Jimmy Booker (15.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Max Stepaniak (14.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg). They are scheduled to play Northwest at home on Friday.
Chance reaches milestone…
Lakota West girls basketball standout Chance Gray reached the 1,000-point benchmark on Dec. 12 when she scored 34 points in a 79-62 win over Colerain. The 5-foot-9 junior guard hit the milestone in her 55th game and joins her sister, Amber Gray, in that feat. Amber, a 2008 graduate of West, did it in her 52nd game during the 2006-07 season, according to a post on Twitter from their father, Carleton Gray.
“Proof is in the pudding,” Carleton Gray posted. “Been putting in work in the lab for a long time, developing game skills… not tricks.”
Amber Gray holds several program records, including most points in a game (41), season points total (523), points per game in a season (21.5), career points (1,931), season rebound total (271) and career rebounds (925).
Chance Gray is sitting at 1,047 career points and leads the GMC with 25.8 points per game this season, adding 6.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.3 steals per game. West (4-2) is set to play Middletown (0-3) on Saturday.