Rodney Parrett hasn’t experienced a season like the one his Ross High School girls basketball team went through last year.
After graduating eight seniors for the 2015-16 team, his lineup already was devoid experience. Then a rash of crazy injuries hit the Rams. Five ACL tears and a broken arm forced even younger players into the mix early in the year.
Ross never recovered and finished 3-20, losing its last eight games, but Parrett is hoping those growing pains lead to some big gains this season. All the underclassmen are back with a year of experience under their belts and eager for results.
“We’re still young, but we have more experience,” Parrett said. “Some of them were given a trial by fire last year, and they’ve come back a little more mature and ready to play.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
The Rams will be led by seniors Julia Nunn and Olivia Chaney, who led the team in points (6.5 per game) and rebounds (4.7 rebounds per game), respectively, as well as sophomore point guard Brooklyn Breaker and junior twins Kaitlyn and Korryn Justice.
Breaker moved up from junior varsity to a starting role in a span of a few days last season. Kaitlyn Justice is one of the players coming back from an ACL tear.
“We’re going to be more team oriented this year,” Parrett said. “I don’t have one girl that’s going to be a superstar. The girls are buying into the fact we need to be a superstar team because we don’t have one star player. We need everybody to have their night and contribute.”
Parrett said aside from having a little more experience among the youth this season, the Rams are a lot faster as well. The tallest player on the team is 5-foot-10 and most are closer to 5-foot-6 or less, so Ross will rely on its speed and fundamentals to get things going.
The key will be making plays on defense, Parrett said.
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of teams just because of the pace we will set on defense,” he said. “That’s our goal. We’re going to be aggressive and get after the ball. It’s hard to do that when you pull three freshmen up the fourth game in and tell them they are going to be starting varsity. They were too timid and scared to do that last year. Now they are a little more experienced and more eager and aggressive on the floor.”
How many wins that can translate to, Parrett has no idea. That will depend on how much confidence his players can build and how they respond when faced with adversity.
Parrett said the Rams saw in the Miami University preview scrimmage last weekend how little things like missed layups and free throws can make a big difference. The Rams lost by three to Taylor, but had they not missed 50 percent of their free throws, they could have won pretty easily, Parrett said.
“Things like that you resonate in them and make them realize how important those things are and how close they are to turning that corner,” Parrett said.
Ross went 12-11 in 2015-16 and finished in a three-way tie for first in the Southwest Ohio Conference at 9-3 in league games. That was the program’s first league title since sharing the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Scarlet Division crown with Northwest in 2006-07, but none of the 10 players on varsity this season were a part of the 2015-16 campaign.
Winning can be contageous, so Parrett hopes his players can experience some success early and learn from it.
“It’s tough when you come off a season like last year,” he said. “You bounce back and almost everyone is back, but you have to teach them how to win. These girls are ready to go and get out there to play but when they get down you have to make them believe they can come back. It’s not, ‘Oh, here it goes again.’ It’s, ‘Why not us? We can win.’ ”