Ben Yeager of Ross puts up a shot defended by Edgewood’s Aaron Frazier during Friday night’s game in St. Clair Township. Visiting Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Prep basketball: Defense-powered Ross completes sweep of Edgewood

ST. CLAIR TWP. — Ross High School boys basketball coach David Lane takes a lot of pride in his team’s defense.

It doesn’t get much better than Friday night’s performance at Edgewood.

The Rams held the Cougars without a field goal for the final 19 minutes and took home a 49-34 win to complete a season sweep of their Southwest Ohio Conference rivals.

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“We specialize in our defense, and it showed tonight,” Lane said. “I think we did a good job pressuring and forcing some turnovers. I thought other than the first quarter, we did a much better job of pressuring the ball, keeping it in front, closing out the shooters, boxing out.”

Ross (11-5 overall, 6-3 SWOC) got off to a slow start as Edgewood (4-12, 2-7) jumped out to a 19-11 lead, but the Cougars had to switch to a zone defense after getting into some foul trouble with its post players and that led to a shift in momentum. Four guys had two fouls before halftime.

The Rams had struggled against the zone the first meeting with Edgewood, a 56-49 overtime win, but they focused a lot of attention on that in practice all week and Lane thought his offense executed perfectly in those situations this time.

“You’ve got to give them credit, they came out ready to play, knocked down some 3s (in the first quarter),” Lane said. “I think we were late to shooters. We were moving on the catch, not the pass. We settled down a little bit defensively. I think when they went zone we were able to get some good shots inside, knock down some buckets and then we were able to get up our pressure and it made a difference in the second quarter.”

Edgewood’s Aaron Frazier puts up a shot as Cooper Shields and Cody Geers of Ross provide tight defense during Friday night’s game at Edgewood. Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Max Stepaniak opened the second quarter with a quick 3-pointer to spark a 10-0 run for Ross’ first lead, and although Edgewood answered with seven straight points, including a Gabe Allen trey, the Rams were able to finish the half strong with another 10-0 run sparked by some strong play from Tyler Stenger on both ends of the floor.

Ross took a 34-28 advantage into halftime and never trailed again.

“(The zone) can take a little out of you, and kids tend to not play as hard,” Edgewood coach John Thomas said. “When they knocked down some big shots, three or four 3s, a couple short-corner looks, we were up eight or nine and they got back in it and took a six-point lead at half. It was a call we had to make, and it didn’t work out for us.”

Ross quickly extended the lead to double digits with the first four points of the third quarter and then was able to slow down the game with long possessions to maintain control. At one point, almost five minutes passed before either team added a point to the board.

Edgewood’s Isaiah Gambrell eyes the basket during Friday night’s game against visiting Ross in St. Clair Township. Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

“The second half I thought we would come out of the locker room with a little more take and we didn’t,” Thomas said.

Turnovers didn’t help the Cougars, either, and opportunities became limited to the free-throw line, where they went 6-of-12 to account for their only points of the second half.

Edgewood’s last field goal came with three minutes left in the second quarter.

“We were getting steals and forcing them into stuff, and I don’t remember them even taking many shots the second half,” Rams senior Cooper Shields said. “They were turning the ball over, and then we would take advantage and capitalize off their mistakes.”

Shields paced Ross with 13 points, while Ben Yeager added 10, and Stenger and Stepaniak had seven points each. Edgewood was led by Allen’s 13 points and Isaiah Gambrell’s seven points.

Max Stepaniak of Ross prepares to launch a shot Friday night at Edgewood. Visiting Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Edgewood, which has lost five straight, looks to bounce back Saturday at Valley View. Ross hosts Miami Valley on Tuesday.

Ross 11-23-8-7—49

Edgewood 19-9-4-2—34

ROSS (11-5, 6-3 SWOC): Dylan Zimmerman 2 0 5; Ben Yeager 1 7 10; Tyler Stenger 3 1 7; Cooper Shields 6 0 13; Cole Gronas 2 0 5; Sean Lange 1 0 2; Max Stepaniak 3 0 7. Totals: 18-8-49

EDGEWOOD (4-12, 2-7 SWOC): Peyton Daley 1 0 3; Zach Hamilton 1 0 3; Aaron Frazier 2 2 6; Gabe Allen 5 1 13; Caleb Allen 0 1 1; Eric Brooks 0 1 1; Isaiah Gambrell 3 1 7. Totals: 12-6-34

3-pointers: R 5 (Zimmerman, Yeager, Shields, Gronas, Stepaniak), E 4 (G. Allen 2, Daley, Hamilton)

Max Stepaniak of Ross goes after a shot by Edgewood’s Isaiah Gambrell on Friday night in St. Clair Township. Visiting Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Ben Yeager of Ross dribbles around Edgewood’s Eric Brooks during Friday night’s game in St. Clair Township. Visiting Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Edgewood’s Eric Brooks gets past Ben Yeager of Ross and puts up a shot during Friday night’s game in St. Clair Township. Visiting Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Edgewood’s Peyton Daley dribbles the ball up the floor against Ben Yeager of Ross during Friday night’s game at Edgewood. Ross won 49-34. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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