ROSS TWP. — Justin Pappas found the sold-out gym and shrieking crowd very much to his liking.
The senior forward was the key figure for Badin High School’s boys basketball team Saturday night as the Rams went on the road and handled Ross 51-38 in a Butler County rivalry showdown.
“It was a great experience, I’m not going to lie,” said Pappas, the game’s leading scorer (16) and rebounder (nine). “All the fans coming and having that support … it’s a lot of fun, but you also have to keep your poise and can’t let it all get to you. You have to just focus on the game, play between the lines and enjoy it.”
BOYS BASKETBALL COVERAGE
GIRLS BASKETBALL COVERAGE
Badin only trailed once all night (10-9) and was never seriously challenged in the second half after taking a 23-15 advantage into the break.
Ross shot poorly most of the way, and Badin had a lot to do with that.
“Defensively, I thought we did a tremendous job tonight, especially on the perimeter taking away their 3s,” Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber said. “Boxing out is always No. 1 with us, and second is containing the ball. Tonight we talked about how we couldn’t leave too much of the corners wide open because they like to drive it and kick it. If we could contain the ball, we could take them out of that.”
Joseph Walsh scored eight points and Zach Switzer had seven for Badin, which lifted its record to 13-6 with a momentum-shifting weekend.
On Friday, Badin visited McNicholas. The Rams were down 32-16 at halftime and 41-26 through three quarters before rallying for a 48-46 win.
“That was big for us. It got our confidence back,” said Weisgerber, whose squad was coming off consecutive losses to Chaminade Julienne, St. Xavier and Purcell Marian. “Tonight was just going to be all emotion and how well we could handle it. Ross is a very good team. They don’t have 14 wins for no reason. They can play.”
Ross (14-6) managed just 22 points through the first 26 minutes and watched its four-game winning streak come to a halt.
Cooper Shields collected 13 points, Ben Yeager had nine and Cody Geers added seven for Ross, which had 19 turnovers and didn’t help its cause at the free-throw line (11-of-23).
“I personally expected it to be a little bit closer game, and it wasn’t,” said Geers, a senior forward. “I don’t think the hype was too much for us. It’s just that they’re a really good team, and we didn’t play up to our expectations. We did not box out well. I think that’s what killed us the most.”
Pressure defense keyed Badin’s comeback against McNick, and Ross coach David Lane said he was expecting to see more of that Saturday.
“We were expecting them to come out and pressure us a little bit in the full court, which they didn’t do as much, but they’re very solid in the halfcourt,” Lane said. “They do a good job of communicating and being physical.
“I didn’t think we attacked the way we could’ve, especially off some ball screens. We let their pressure kind of drive us away from the basket. I think that was the difference in the game, just them being a little bit more aggressive on defense than we were on offense.
“They wanted it a little bit more, but we never stopped playing. You know how I feel about my kids. They play their butts off all the time. You’ve just got to give Badin a lot of credit.”
The 6-foot-5 Pappas hurt Ross around the basket. He put together two clusters of baskets, sinking four field goals in the last four minutes of the second quarter and three more in the first four minutes of the fourth period.
“I was trying to do my best down there,” Pappas said. “We knew they didn’t exactly have anybody that was an inside presence to technically stop me, so we knew we were going to have to push it inside and try to work inside out.”
Ten different Badin players scored. Senior Ben Grawe got a huge cheer when he converted a stickback in the final 30 seconds.
“To have this kind of crowd for a high school game is great,” Weisgerber said. “I told the guys before the game, ‘This is the atmosphere you want to play in.’ Your league games are important, but you want to play your nonleague games in this.”
Lane said he’s a big fan of the Ross-Badin rivalry.
“It’s good to play these guys late in the season because they’re normally pretty solid and it gives us a good idea of where we rank with some of the teams in our sectional,” Lane said. “This game is always a good gate either way. I think it’s good for the community, but I think it’s also good for the basketball programs as well. The support we had tonight from the community and the students was phenomenal.”
Ross and Badin are both in the Division II Dayton sectional. The draw will be held Sunday afternoon.
Both teams will play Tuesday. Ross travels to Monroe, while Badin hosts Summit Country Day.
“I think we’re up and coming,” Pappas said. “This is a great ramp into the postseason, so I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Geers believes Ross will rebound quickly.
“We’re not going to give up on each other, and Coach Lane always has our backs,” he said. “We want to play for him and just play tough basketball.”
BADIN (13-6): Joseph Walsh 2 2 8; Seth Hargis 2 0 4; Nathan Hegemann 0 2 2; Zach Switzer 2 2 7; Justin Pappas 7 2 16; Donovan Watkins 0 2 2; Spencer Giesting 2 0 4; Ben Grawe 1 0 2; John Berg 1 0 2; Alex DeLong 1 2 4. Totals: 18-12-51
ROSS (14-6): Ben Yeager 3 3 9; Cooper Shields 5 1 13; Sean Lange 1 0 2; Cody Geers 2 2 7; Cole Gronas 1 3 5; Kerner Angel 0 2 2. Totals: 12-11-38
3-pointers: B 3 (Walsh 2, Switzer), R 3 (Shields 2, Geers)