FREMONT – Hosting the high-powered Whitmer Panthers for a rare girls-boys varsity doubleheader, both contests shared a number of similarities for Fremont Ross.
In both ends of the twinbill, the home team found itself down big early, went into halftime staring at a deep hole and then, after battling strongly in the second half, ended in lopsided losses.
The Lady Giants fell to the Panthers 65-47 while the boys were defeated 64-40.
Panthers’ hot-shooting dooms Lady Giants
A slow defensive start for Ross combined with a lights-out shooting performance by the Panthers proved too potent a combination for the Lady Giants to overcome.
Whitmer began the game by hitting 8-of-11 first-quarter field goal attempts against a Ross defense that played a step behind en route to a 25-10 lead over the Lady Giants. The end of the quarter did nothing to turn the tide as Whitmer entered halftime shooting 62 percent from the field, including five 3-pointers, and a 12-for-12 performance from the free-throw line and Ross’ halftime deficit was 49-23.
“I thought defensively we weren’t moving our feet in the first half,” girls coach Juan Vela said. “We just weren’t into it, for whatever reason, and that put us back pretty bad. The second half, we tried to battle back, cut it back down to 13 or 14, but couldn’t get over the hump.
“They had a hot hand but, shoot, when you give somebody what they’re comfortable shooting, anybody can shoot that well,” he added. “You got to make them uncomfortable and that was one of the speeches we had, we had to get them uncomfortable and move our feet.”
The Lady Giants did a much-better job of making Whitmer uncomfortable in the second half and, as they did so, Whitmer’s shooting percentage dropped significantly. Ross’ offensive performance improved as well, Ross outscored Whitmer 16-8 in the third quarter. Though the Lady Giants narrowed the deficit back into the mid-teens, the first-half hole they’d dug for themselves proved too great to climb out from.
“Give our team credit for not backing down in the second half, we tried to battle back but when you dig a hole that big, it’s kind of hard,” Vela said. “We tried but it wasn’t our night.”
Jasannah Sabiers had a terrific night in the post, showing a nice finishing touch to lead Ross with 14 points. Brooklyn Baptista scored 10 and Olivia Baptista added nine.
Deep and talented Whitmer runs away from Little Giants
The Little Giants saw first-hand why the Whitmer Panthers are undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the state in Division 1.
Though Ross played well in the first quarter and kept close to the Panthers, trailing just 18-12 after the opening eight minutes, the Panthers pulled away in the second quarter.
The Panthers used their advantages in skill, speed and talent to score a quick six points to begin the quarter and continue to pour on the points from there. Ross made just one second-quarter field goal, turned the ball eight times and was outscored 18-5 in the quarter to enter halftime facing a 36-17 deficit.
“The better team definitely won,” boys coach John Cahill said. “I was really disappointed with how we competed in the second quarter. I thought we played a pretty good (first) quarter. They made a couple free throws late but then we went away from what we tried to do, be gritty and rebound and take care of the basketball, instead we turned it over it a lot, we didn’t rebound. Part of it is a credit to them and a part of it is us not doing what we tried to get done.”
As Whitmer’s offense took off, the Little Giants rushed their offense, trying to keep pace with the high-powered Panthers.
“We have to play at our pace, it’s what we have right now,” Cahill said. “Unfortunately, they’re too good for us right now to be able to do that.”
Hayden Lehmann hit three 3-pointers to lead Ross with nine points and Jabryis Heidelburg added six.
Cahill was encouraged by what he saw in the fourth quarter when the Little Giants’ deep reserves saw extended action, some of it against Whitmer starters. There, Ross ran an effective half-court offense and outscored the Panthers 15-6.
“I was really happy with the fourth quarter and the kids that don’t play a lot,” Cahill said. “They played more like we’d like to play, they moved the ball, were a little tougher than some of our front-line guys were tonight and that’s a credit to them. You’re always happy when those guys get a chance to play and do some good things, especially Connor Malan, I thought he did some good things tonight.”
The Little Giants (1-7 overall, 0-6 TRAC) are back in action Saturday with another tough test as they travel to Toledo Start (7-2) who themselves lost a game to Whitmer last weekend, by eight points.
The Lady Giants (8-4, 3-4) host Tiffin Columbian on Monday at 7:30 in non-conference play.
Whitmer 65, Fremont Ross 47
W| 25 – 24— 8 – 8 65
FR| 10 – 13—16—8 47
Mariah Hopings 19; Rhegyn Blood 14; Morgan Henkle 5; Abby Hickey 13; Khamani Jones 2; Jade Nelson 6; Jayda Young 2; Tatum Young 4.
FREMONT ROSS (47)
Brooklyn Baptista 10; Olivia Baptista 9; Rachel Gore 3; Jasannah Sabiers 14; Marissa Overmyer 2; Molly Mies 6; Mikeaya McLaurin 3.
Whitmer 64, Fremont Ross 40
W| 18 – 18— 18 – 6 64
FR| 12—5— 8— 15 40
Areon Evans 7; Edward Colbert 9; Leon Hughes 17; Trey Syroka 10; Zach Brown 11; Cavon Butler 6; Michael Varnese 2.
FREMONT ROSS (40)
LaBronze Barnett 3; Hayden Lehmann 9; Jabryis Heidelburg 6; Ben Gedeon 3; Ethan Chumley 2; Jurt Harrison 3; Jaevon Martin 4; Connor Malan 4; Kang Ou 2; Jason Burling 2.