TRENTON — Ross High boys basketball coach David Lane said it’s been kind of a thing this season.
“Historically, we just don’t start really well. I just don’t know what it is,” Lane said. “For some reason our first quarter is our worst quarter. It happened again tonight.”
The Rams shook off just that — a slow first eight minutes — and held the Edgewood Cougars without a field goal in the last 19 minutes on the way to a 49-34 victory Friday night.
The Cougars shot out of the gate connecting on eight of their first 12 shots to move out to a 19-11 lead after one quarter.
Then entered a smothering Rams defense.
“You’ve got to give credit to their defense,” Edgewood coach John Thomas said. “They forced us into a lot of turnovers and a lot of bad shots. It was their pressure. That was a big part of it.”
The Rams scored on all six of the Cougars’ turnovers in the second quarter. Ross took a 34-28 lead into the half.
“I think we were late to shooters, and we were moving on the catch and not the pass early on,” Lane said. “We settled down a little bit defensively. I think once they were in zone, we were able to get some good shots inside. We were able to pressure and that eventually made a big difference in the second half.”
And the second half was, indeed, all Ross. Edgewood only connected on 6 of 12 free throws to round out the Cougars’ scoring in the final 16 minutes.
“We came out with more energy than them,” Ross senior guard Cooper Shields said. “We just kept saying, ‘Put our foot on their throat.’ We came out, needed to take that first punch and I think we did that.”
Shields finished with a team-high 13 points to pace Ross, which moved to 11-5 overall and 6-3 in the Southwest Ohio Conference.
“Sometimes I think we come out lackadaisical and it hurts us,” Shields said. “But today I think we came out strong in the second half. We realized we had to do to win.”
Rams senior Ben Yeager notched 10 points, while senior Tyler Stenger and sophomore Max Stepaniak each posted seven points.
Lane said that Stenger, notably a defensive specialist, had his best offensive performance of the season.
Edgewood senior Gabe Allen tallied a team-high 13 points, while senior Isaiah Gambrell scored seven and sophomore Aaron Frazier had six.
The Cougars, who travel to Valley View on Saturday, slipped to 4-12 overall and 2-7 in the SWOC. The Cougars host Miami Valley on Tuesday.