Prep boys basketball: New coach Lane eager to push Ross forward

Landen Angel of Ross tries to get upcourt as Edgewood’s Drew Reckart (5) and Ethan McCarty apply pressure during their game at Ross on Dec. 23, 2016. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

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Landen Angel of Ross tries to get upcourt as Edgewood’s Drew Reckart (5) and Ethan McCarty apply pressure during their game at Ross on Dec. 23, 2016. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Easing into his new job was not an option for David Lane

“It’s been a hectic transition,” Ross High School’s new boys basketball coach said Monday afternoon on his way to practice.

Lane was promoted from head junior varsity coach to head varsity coach in late September after the sudden resignation of three-year coach Brian Gunter.

“I love it,” Lane, a 2008 Ross graduate, said early in his first media interview of his new role. “I’m really enjoying it. I was the head JV coach for the last four years, so I kind of had some head coaching experience, but now, you’re basically the face of the program. All eyes are on you. JV is important, but the varsity is the main part of the program. You’re taking on a lot of responsibility — making sure the corners are covered — but as far as running the whole program, I’m really enjoying it.”


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Lane inherits a team that went 6-17 overall and finished fifth in the Southwest Ohio Conference with a 4-8 record last season. Most of the starters graduated, but senior guard Landon Angel returns after leading the Rams in scoring with an average of 13.9 points per game and finishing tied for second on the team with an average of 4.5 rebounds per game.

Angel earned first-team All-SWOC honors, but the next three top scorers graduated. Junior guard Cooper Shields is the next highest returning scorer after averaging 3.3 points per game.

“He’s one of the main stars that came back,” Lane said. “A lot of our juniors got experience last season. We look for him to be a senior leader by example and vocally.”

Lane also is counting on senior center Joe Valentine for significant contributions. Valentine averaged 2.6 points per game last season.

“He’s very physical, and he’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached,” Lane said.

That approach could come in handy for a Ross team that Lane described as “undersized” — almost an annual issue for the Rams.

“We’re a guard-heavy team,” he said. “We’re trying to make up for that with our quickness and by being a little more physical. We’ll try to get up and down the floor and use our speed and quickness to generate offense. Our big focus has been on boxing out because we can’t rely on size.”

The Rams were coming off their annual scrimmage with Madison at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, which includes hanging around for an Indiana Pacers NBA game. Lane was impressed with Ross’ progress during its four scrimmages.


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“What we’re really pleased with is they’ve taken a step forward in every scrimmage, and that’s all you can ask for,” he said.

“What I like is our work ethic. They hit the ground running. We’re getting leadership from our sophomores through our seniors. We practice with the JV and the varsity, and the sophomores’ work ethic is just as good as a senior’s. They’re constantly working hard, and if you can get them working hard, that’s half the battle.”

Lane was seeing that even before his promotion.

“Collectively, the coaching staff has done a great job improving every single person,” he said. “They really bought into the weight room over the summer. That was huge as far as their confidence goes as players. I feel like we as a program took a step forward as far as getting bigger and stronger.”


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How far that will carry the Rams in the SWOC remains to be seen. Ross is scheduled to open the season with three straight nonconference home games — Dec. 1 against Taylor, Dec. 9 against Reading and Dec. 12 against Franklin County (Ind.) — before plunging into conference play at Mount Healthy on Dec. 15.

“I think it will be a pretty competitive league,” Lane said. “There’s a lot of balance. Teams are competitive and well-disciplined. Some teams are athletic like Mt. Healthy. They get up and down the floor. Other teams are physical like Edgewood and Talawanda. I see us doing pretty well as long as we stick to our game.”


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