- By Rick Cassano Staff Writer
The Ross-Badin prep boys basketball rivalry returned to the court Saturday night. Quite literally, it rocked.
A standing-room-only crowd packed into Badin’s Mulcahey Gym and gave the players a thunderous, electric atmosphere to compete in, with Ross emerging as the 46-41 victor in the Butler County showdown.
“It was nuts,” said RHS junior Cody Geers, who scored all 8 of his points after halftime. “The fans were with us the whole time. Coaches didn’t give up, and players didn’t give up either.
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Edgewood 33, Little Miami 31
“It felt great because we’ve been preparing all week for it. We’ve just got to keep working hard and winning games.”
Ross went on the road and knocked off Southwest Ohio Conference leader Northwest on Friday night, then conquered Badin for the first time since Dec. 28, 2004.
“This is probably one of the biggest weekends in Ross basketball in five, six years,” first-year Ross coach David Lane said. “I couldn’t be any more proud of these guys. It doesn’t matter whether I put a guy in for 30 seconds or three minutes. He always gives me everything he has.
“I was very pleased with how we came out tonight. I always tell them that we need to be the first one to punch everybody else in the mouth, and they came out and delivered the first blow.”
Landen Angel scored 13 points and Cooper Shields had 8 for the winners. Ross jumped out to a 19-6 lead, fell behind briefly near the end of the third quarter, then limited Badin to 6 points in the last period.
It was the first Ross-Badin matchup since BHS recorded a 36-33 victory on Dec. 4, 2010. Saturday’s contest was just the schools’ fourth meeting since the Ross triumph in 2004 — Badin won in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-2011.
“Our support continues to be unreal,” Lane said. “We can’t do what we’re doing if not for these guys coming out and supporting us. The kids have earned the right to play in front of crowds like this because of their work ethic. They deserve this.
“The rivalry should go on every year,” added the 2008 Ross graduate, who never got to face Badin in a real game during his playing days. “You get the whole community out for a game like this. And money-wise, the gate for each school should be phenomenal.”
A great weekend for Ross (11-7) wasn’t such a great weekend for Badin (9-9), which took a 58-34 beating at Purcell Marian on Friday and has now lost seven of its last nine games.
Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber said his team doesn’t have a confident shooting stroke right now. The hosts shot 30 percent from the floor against Ross, hitting 2 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc and 13 of 23 free throws.
“It comes down to our shooting,” Weisgerber said. “We work at it in practice. We’ve got to put some pressure in our drills to have them shoot under pressure like we are in a game like this.
“You’ve got to give credit to Ross. They hit all the important shots. When they did have problems, it didn’t bother them. They just came right back and got after it again.”
Badin held the lead only twice, 2-0 and 35-34. It was a close contest throughout the fourth stanza, but BHS trailed for good after two Geers free throws made it 36-35 heading into the last eight minutes.
Angel was plagued by fouls and limited to 2 points in the second half. Geers drilled two pivotal 3-pointers from the corner, putting Ross up 39-35 with 6:43 remaining and 44-38 with 58 seconds left.
“I was just feeling I had to make a shot,” said Geers, who also led the winners with five rebounds. “I hit that first one and I felt good, so I shot the next one and made it.”
Lane admitted the second trey was one of those “Oh no … great shot” moments for him.
“I think I said, ‘Pull it out,’ and I didn’t get to say it all the way before he shot it,” Lane said. “It went in, so that’s fine. If he didn’t make it, it probably would’ve been a different story. They were both humongous shots. He had the guts to take those shots in those situations and hit nothing but net.”
Ross totaled 20 turnovers, yet showed some poise down the stretch when the game was on the line.
“I think the difference was our execution down the stretch,” Lane said. “I thought we did a great job late in the fourth quarter of being patient, getting fouled and going to the free-throw line. I’d like to have made a few more free throws (Ross was 11 of 18), but we did a good job of handling the pressure and not letting it dictate what we did.”
Jakob Tipton (11) and Daunte DeCello (9) led the scoring for Badin. It was still a 44-41 game when BHS missed a 3-pointer in the last 10 seconds, and Angel sank two foul shots with 1.0 on the clock.
Weisgerber said his squad may have been running low on emotional steam late in the game after working so hard to rally from its early deficit.
“I keep saying we’ve got to learn from these things. Sooner or later, we’ve got to actually do it,” Weisgerber said. “I’ve still got confidence in these kids. We’ll get it turned around.”
Both teams are back in action Tuesday. Ross travels to Talawanda, while Badin visits Northwest.
ROSS (11-7): Dylan Zimmerman 2 2 7, Ben Yeager 1 0 3, Landen Angel 3 7 13, Cody Geers 2 2 8, Joe Valentine 2 0 4, Cooper Shields 3 0 8, Sean Lange 1 0 3. Totals: 14-11-46
BADIN (9-9): Daunte DeCello 2 5 9, Jordan Flaig 1 0 2, Kyle Young 1 2 4, Caleb Meyer 1 2 4, Jakob Tipton 5 1 11, Joseph Walsh 1 0 3, Nathan Hegemann 2 0 5, Zach Switzer 0 3 3. Totals: 13-13-41
3-pointers: R 7 (Shields 2, Geers 2, Lange, Zimmerman, Yeager), B 2 (Walsh, Hegemann)