FREMONT – It may not have had the end result John Cahill was hoping for in his debut as head coach of the Fremont Ross boys basketball program, but overall, there was a lot to like about the Little Giants’ season-opener.
Facing a deep, talented and balanced opponent in Anthony Wayne, the Little Giants hung close with the Generals all night and gave themselves a chance in the fourth quarter, only to fall short, 68-58.
“I’d have much rather won it than lost it, but I was happy with how we competed,” Cahill said. “Tonight I felt like we battled. (Anthony Wayne is) really good and they’re used to winning. They won a state title in baseball and went 10-0 in football. They’re strong. They’re a lot of things we hope we’ll be in two or three years with a commitment in the weight room. We stayed in the fight and I was proud of the kids for that.”
Though the Little Giants trailed for all but the game’s opening minutes, Ross remained close, never allowing Anthony Wayne to pull away. The deficit remained mostly in the 8-to-10-point range for most of the night, though several times Ross came as close as six points, including in the final minute – but never quite managed to seriously threaten to come all the way back.
“We couldn’t execute down the stretch to a certain extent to get it close-close,” Cahill said. “We had a couple pretty big turnovers in that too and part of that is we were trying to play a little faster than we want, but I’m not totally upset.
The Little Giants were led by returning senior starters Jabryis Heidelburg and Bryce Root. Heidelburg drove his way to the basket repeatedly through the night, finishing with a game-high 24 points on nine field goals. Root, battled first half foul trouble, forcing him to a long stretch on the bench spanning the first and second quarters, but managed to add 15 points.
“Both of those kids, I feel really lucky to have on my first team here,” Cahill said. “It’s a process and, I’ve said this all along, it’s not going to be an overnight fix. …Our skill development and our strength are behind. We’re just not very strong and not crazy-skilled but those two kids are going to set the tone. They’re gym rats and it shows.”
Dontrez Brown led Ross with six rebounds and Deryante Hardin dished out four assists.
The Little Giants (0-1) return to the court Friday when they travel to TRAC favorite St. Francis at 7:30.
ANTHONY WAYNE 68, FREMONT ROSS 58
FR – 13—14—11—20— 58
ANTHONY WAYNE (68)
Zac Szul 12; Max Denman 14; Kyle Ray 13; Max Bradfield 13; Nick Smith 2; Bobby Miller 5; Bryce Boyer 4; Ben Wyrick 5.
FREMONT ROSS (58)
Hayden Lehmann 3; Jabryis Heidelburg 24; Ben Gedeon 6; Bryce Root 15; Deryante Hardin 4; Dontrez Brown 3; Ethan Chumley 3.