Basketball: Clay at Fremont Ross, Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015.
FREMONT – Every team wants to hit its stride in time for the season’s home stretch.
Peaking at the right time — tournament time — is the goal every coach has for his team.
That may just be what the Fremont Ross boys basketball team is doing.
With a 38-point thrashing of Oregon Clay on Tuesday night, the Little Giants won their third-consecutive game — a season-high. More impressive than the 83-45 final score is the way it came about.
Ross came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and didn’t stop.
The offense ran smoothly, both with and away from the ball. The Little Giants enjoyed a high-shooting percentage, 7 for 10 in the first quarter for a 19-6 lead, and 14 of 22 (63 percent) for a 43-12 halftime advantage.
While the offense rarely missed, the defense made sure Clay did. The Eagles shot a paltry 17 percent in the first half (4 for 23), Ross limited Clay to one-shot possessions by taking a 19-5 edge in rebounding in the first half.
“Everything is just smoother,” said senior Grant McConnell, who scored a game-high 17 points. “The way we’re passing, things are really starting to mesh together.”
While the numbers are impressive, the most noticeable difference in the Little Giants of today from those from most of the season is the confidence in their step and the cohesiveness with which they play.
Ross entered Tuesday’s game against winless Clay expecting to win. But a team that expects to win doesn’t always play as though it should. Ross had no issue being ready in the wake of its thrilling win over Toledo Whitmer last Friday.
“This game were able to play with a high-level of energy, we had the tempo,” Ross coach Mark Gedeon said. “One of the things we tried to do was make them uncomfortable and I think we did.”
Early in the season, Ross enjoyed a few games where it showed flashes of what a gritty, selfless team could achieve with no true star and several quality pieces playing as one unit.
Then the holidays came. And injuries. And illnesses. And players on vacation. And disciplinary issues.
For nearly a month, the Little Giants were a team without a consistent core. Practices weren’t effective as different starting lineups and substitution rotations were being re-worked on the fly. In a game Jan. 15, Ross suited up just six varsity players against St. Francis de Sales.
Finally, bodies returned from vacation and remained healthy and in the lineup. After a 2-9 start to the season, the Little Giants are 5-4 in their last nine, and two of their losses have been by one point.
“The key for us is consistency,” Gedeon said. “We’ve had our group here in practice, we’ve had them available for games. That’s allowed us to do, at least what we envisioned for this team, what our blueprint was, that we have the pieces for everyone to do their roles and make us a more competitive team.”
That’s not to say Ross is on the verge of a state championship. With the exception of Marion Harding, who entered Tuesday with a 9-9 record, no team the Little Giants have beaten have more than seven wins. Clay and Fostoria have one victory between them.
Ross’ final two games, Friday at home against St. Francis and a week later at St. John’s, will show just how far the Little Giants have come this season – and how far they have yet to go.
But even if Ross drops its final two games, if the Little Giants can show they can compete they just may enter the postseason as the team no one wants to play.
“We don’t’ care who we play, we’re going to play the same way,” McConnell said. “Whether it’s someone like Clay or if we end up playing Lima or someone like that down the road, we’re going to play hard and hopefully good things happen.”