Perhaps Ross High School boys basketball fans will look back on Friday night as a turning point for a program that hasn’t had a winning record since 2012-13.
Time will tell, of course, but the Rams left Edgewood with a full load of excitement and confidence after an emotional Southwest Ohio Conference victory.
First-year head coach David Lane was beaming after watching Ross eradicate an 18-point deficit in the second half and stun the Cougars 69-65 in overtime at Ron Kash Court.
“I give all the credit to the kids,” said Lane, whose squad improved to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the SWOC. “I’ve never been around a more hard-working group. I could not be more proud to be their coach and represent them.
“We can start to see the culture turning because in the past, I think this is the kind of game that we just would not have been able to respond to. My thing is just playing hard. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it going 100 miles an hour.”
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Landen Angel poured in a career-high 34 points, 19 in the game’s final 12 minutes, and Cooper Shields tossed in 17 for Ross.
Shields sent the contest into overtime by burying a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation. He had a total of 12 points in the first five games of the season.
“It was definitely the most adrenaline-packed game I’ve ever played in,” said Angel, a senior guard who tops the SWOC with a 23-point scoring average. “It’s the best feeling, man. Senior year, coming out with the win at Edgewood, I don’t have any words for it.”
Angel converted six of the Rams’ 13 treys. Shields had four and dialed long distance to start OT, giving the visitors the lead for good.
Ross hasn’t had much to cheer about since going 18-5 in 2012-13 … the Rams were 22-69 the last four seasons. Lane graduated from RHS in 2008 and was known for his all-out play, and Angel said it’s rubbing off on the players.
“He gets us in at night sometimes and plays some 5-on-5 with us, so we get to feel the style he used to play,” Angel said. “Especially with him being a young coach, he was able to come in and kind of relive the glory days a little bit, so we were able to relive it with him.”
The mood wasn’t nearly as festive around the Edgewood locker room. The Cougars looked to be running away with the game when it was 42-24 midway through the third quarter.
Tyrevis Hill (16), Austin Scott (15), Trent Allen (13) and Garrett Gabbard (12) were the leading scorers for Edgewood (3-4, 1-2). The hosts were 21 of 37 from the foul line and missed nine free throws in the fourth period.
“We didn’t guard them,” Cougars coach John Thomas said. “Not only were we missing free throws, they were going down and scoring. We didn’t get rebounds, we didn’t get stops, and we gave up entirely too many points.
“Their energy was greater than ours, and they fought harder than we did. It appeared like they wanted it worse than we did. David’s doing a really good job of getting those kids to play hard. I know him well. I consider him and his parents to be friends of ours. He deserves credit for what he’s doing over there.”
Angel grabbed eight rebounds and Ben Yeager scored 8 points for Ross, which only made nine shots from inside the arc. The Rams sank 12 of 22 foul shots.
Edgewood got six boards apiece from Hill, Scott and Ethan McCarty.
“We should all feel bad about this, but you can’t get it back,” Thomas said. “You’ve got to wake up tomorrow, strap it up and go back to work. That’s the way life is.”
The Cougars did have a chance to tie in the last 10 seconds of overtime after a steal by Gabbard, but a 3-pointer wouldn’t fall. The Rams’ Cody Geers sank a foul shot to make it 69-65 with four seconds left.
“We were down 11 at halftime, and we just weren’t executing the game plan. We were giving up offensive rebounds and not being efficient offensively,” Lane said. “I challenged them at halftime, and they responded overwhelmingly. They really executed down the stretch. They executed out of timeout situations.”
Lane praised Shields for stepping up offensively. His shooting success helped Angel find more room to operate.
Ross was scheduled to visit Goshen on Saturday night, but the team voted to postpone that game because of Saturday morning’s funeral for RHS sophomore Dylan Campbell, a wrestler and football player who died this week.
“We gave the kids the option and they chose overwhelmingly to reschedule it out of respect for the family,” Lane said. “I think it was the right thing to do. I thought it was a mature decision by our seniors.”
The Rams and Cougars will be on the road Wednesday, Ross vs. Harrison and Edgewood vs. Badin.
ROSS (3-3, 1-1 SWOC): Ben Yeager 2 2 8, Landen Angel 10 8 34, Cody Geers 1 1 3, Dylan Zimmerman 1 0 2, Cooper Shields 6 1 17, Sean Lange 1 0 2, Jordan Hodge 1 0 3. Totals: 22-12-69
EDGEWOOD (3-4, 1-2 SWOC): Tyrevis Hill 4 8 16, Jake Paulsen 1 1 3, Austin Scott 6 0 15, Ethan McCarty 1 0 2, Garrett Gabbard 2 7 12, Gabe Allen 1 0 2, Trent Allen 4 5 13, Evan Brown 1 0 2. Totals: 20-21-65
3-pointers: R 13 (Angel 6, Shields 4, Yeager 2, Hodge), E 4 (Scott 3, Gabbard)