KETTERING — David Lane struggled with the finality of it all Friday night.
“Sorry if I get a little emotional,” Ross High School’s boys basketball coach said after his Rams took a first-round Division II sectional exit with a 61-54 overtime loss to Clinton-Massie. “I feel terrible for the seniors. They deserved this win … but sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. That’s life.”
Ross flew to a 13-2 lead right out of the gate and still held a 47-43 advantage as the last minute of regulation approached at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. But the Rams missed a slam dunk and the Falcons responded by forcing OT, then winning the extra session 12-5.
FRIDAY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT COVERAGE
The defeat extended the postseason misery for Ross (15-8), which hasn’t won a tournament game since 2011-12.
“We had our chances,” Lane said. “A couple baskets didn’t fall our way, a couple missed bunnies. You’ve just got to put the ball through the hoop.
“These are phenomenal kids, and they play their butts off for me all the time. I can’t fault them for their effort whatsoever. They truly deserve the season they had and then to be praised. They’re a helluva group.”
Cooper Shields tallied 20 points and seven rebounds for the sixth-seeded Rams, and Cole Gronas tossed in 16 points. Dylan Zimmerman, Ben Yeager, Sean Lange, Cody Geers and Gronas all grabbed four boards.
It was the final appearance for nine Ross seniors: Zimmerman, Yeager, Shields, Lange, Geers, Tyler Stenger, Isaiah Brinck, Jordan Hodge and Kerner Angel.
“What they’ve done to change Ross basketball is phenomenal,” Lane said. “It’s second to none. Before last year we were consistently winning six, seven, sometimes four games. To come back and win 15 games your junior season and 15 games your senior season, all the credit goes to them.
“I expect so much from them, but they produced more often than not, and I’m extremely blessed to have these guys as part of my first two years as the varsity coach. It’s really going to hurt losing them. Every single one of them hold a special place in my heart.”
Asked what the team hoped to accomplish this season, Shields replied, “I think we accomplished it. I think we came out and had a good season. We had fun the whole time. A playoff win would’ve been nice, but it’s what it is.”
Massie, the No. 5 seed, got double-digit scoring from Zach Chowning (15), Brendan Lamb (13) and Griffin Laake (12). Laake put up six points in OT.
Falcons coach Todd Cook admitted it wasn’t a great performance by his crew, but winning was still sweet.
“The main thing is we continued to work and not give up,” Cook said. “This team has been in this position many times at the end of a game, and we do stay calm. I think a lot of it is because I stay calm. We find a way to get the win. I’m very proud of them for their efforts, and we move on three years in a row to the second round.”
Chowning totaled all of his points on five treys, while 6-foot-6 senior Thomas J. Myers contributed nine points and five rebounds after sitting out the first half. Cook said Myers hadn’t played for six games because of a suspension.
“They’re a completely different team when he’s in there, a lot more physical,” Lane said. “They worked to go inside out and got us a couple times.”
Shields sank three 3-pointers and a stickback in the first five-plus minutes of the game, with Cook noting that his team wasn’t following the defensive game plan. But Massie held Ross to one field goal and four free throws in the second period.
“We had some missed assignments and let ’em get back in the game,” Shields said. “They just had the momentum the whole second half, and we couldn’t swing it our way.”
The Rams’ missed dunk late in regulation was a critical play. Cook said if Ross had converted a layup at that point and gone up 49-43, he wasn’t sure if the Falcons would’ve been able to recover.
“Games don’t come down to one play,” Lane said. “That dunk didn’t win or lose us the ballgame, but critical plays during critical times, we’ve got to make sure we get those executed.”
Ross scored first in OT on two Gronas free throws, but Massie marked 12 of the next 14 points.
Drew Settlemyre and Laake had nine and eight rebounds, respectively, for the Falcons (18-5). Lamb and Daulton Wolfe both hauled in five.
Massie will return to Trent Arena to meet No. 2 seed Thurgood Marshall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Marshall hammered No. 12 Bellbrook 78-48 in Friday’s nightcap.
ROSS (15-8): Dylan Zimmerman 0 6 6; Ben Yeager 0 1 1; Cooper Shields 5 7 20; Sean Lange 3 0 6; Cody Geers 1 0 2; Cole Gronas 4 7 16; Max Stepaniak 1 1 3. Totals: 14-22-54
CLINTON-MASSIE (18-5): Daulton Wolfe 2 1 6; Brendan Lamb 5 3 13; Zach Chowning 5 0 15; Griffin Laake 4 3 12; Drew Settlemyre 2 0 4; Thomas J. Myers 3 3 9; Nate Baker 1 0 2. Totals; 22-10-61
3-pointers: R 4 (Shields 3, Gronas), C 7 (Chowning 5, Wolfe, Laake)
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