ROSS TWP. — Ross High School basketball player Cole Gronas picked a good time to shake off a shooting slump.
A junior guard, Gronas tossed in a career-high 18 points, including a trio of clutch 3-pointers in the third quarter, as the Rams outlasted Edgewood 56-49 in double overtime Friday night in front of a loud standing-room-only crowd at Ross.
“I finally started knocking down shots,” Gronas said. “I can shoot like that, but I have been in a slump. I got the minutes, I got the points. It feels amazing.”
FRIDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
“The one kid came off the bench and hit shots,” EHS coach John Thomas said. “I mean, he comes in and hits what, five or six 3s? Ross is really deep and (RHS coach David Lane) did a pretty good job of finding someone to come in and knock down shots. (Gronas) did a good job knocking down shots, and we couldn’t create enough separation. The biggest part of the game was (Gronas) knocking down those shots. That’s how basketball works.”
The Rams needed every bit of Gronas’ scoring as leading scorers Ben Yeager and Cooper Shields combined for five points in a Southwest Ohio Conference battle between the Butler County rivals.
“We have consistently had (Yeager) and (Shields) score, but they weren’t shooting the ball all that well tonight,” Lane said. “(Gronas) has been getting a bunch of shots — they just haven’t been going in the basket. We have told him to just shoot the ball. We know he can make shots. Tonight is the type of player he can be for us.”
The Rams lost a lead in the final quarter, but had chances to win. At the end of regulation the Rams worked the ball around, but committed a costly turnover. Ross missed the front end of the one-and-one bonus with 2.5 seconds left in the first OT.
Max Stepaniak opened the second OT with a big 3-pointer, then followed it up with a drive down the lane and Ross grabbed a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Lane said his bench continues to come up big and keyed the Friday’s victory.
“We normally try to go eight or nine deep,” Lane said. “The first five wasn’t getting it done, so we threw that second five in. They changed the pace of the game and gave us some energy. They really brought us back and made the game manageable.”
Thomas could only ponder what could have been afterward. The Cougars shot out to a 14-4 lead, but the Ross second five had a big second quarter to tie the game at 23 at the break.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Cougars, who continue to play teams tight only to lose late in falling to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the SWOC.
“Well, we obviously have to finish,” Thomas said. “It was a great game. We started two games in a row really well, but we struggled to get more separation. The kids played hard, I can’t fault them.”
Isaiah Gambrell led EHS with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Peyton Daley and Zach Hamilton each had three triples and 11 points.
Edgewood utilized a zone all night to slow down the Rams, and the Cougars were successful in controlling the tempo.
The Cougars overcame a 40-37 deficit to grab a 43-40 lead, but Shields nailed a triple to force OT. Cody Geers scored on a fast break with 20 seconds left in the first OT forthe hosts, but Gambrell scored with nine seconds left to answer.
Edgewood scored only two points and had four turnovers in the fateful second OT.
Lane and Gronas praised the Ram fans, who stood, yelled, screamed and did all they could to carry the home squad. Lane said the team loves the Ross fans have made the Ross court a tough place for opponents to play in.
“The fans were crazy,” Gronas said. “We don’t win without them. Nothing like beating Edgewood and in front of that crowd. Doesn’t get better.”
“Huge league win for us,” Lane said. “I told the guys you have earned the right to play in front of a crowd like that. That’s the goal. The fans, our student section, was absolutely amazing. We have one of the best, if not the best, student sections around. They gave us a huge boost, and we appreciate all they do.”
Edgewood plays Saturday night at Milford. Ross (6-2, 2-1) plays at conference front-runner Northwest next Friday in a key SWOC battle.
EDGEWOOD (2-5, 0-3 SWOC): Peyton Daley 4 0 11; Zach Hamilton 4 0 11; Aaron Frazier 1 0 3; Gabe Allen 1 2 4; Caleb Allen 1 0 3; Eric Brooks 1 2 4; Isaiah Gambrell 6 1 13. Totals: 18-5-49
ROSS (6-2, 2-1 SWOC): Dylan Zimmerman 1 1 3; Ben Yeager 0 1 1; Tyler Stenger 2 0 4; Cooper Shields 1 1 4: Isaiah Brinck 1 0 2; Cole Gronas 5 3 18; Sean Lange 1 1 3; Kerner Angel 1 0 3; Max Stepaniak 5 0 11; Cody Geers 2 3 7. Totals: 19-10-56
3-pointers: E 8 (Daley 3, Hamilton 3, C. Allen, Frazier), R 8 (Gronas 5, Angel, Stepaniak, Shields)
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