TOLEDO – John Cahill thinks of his team like a golf ball.
In the sport’s earlier days, the golf ball was smooth. As the ball was dented in play, it was discovered it flew better.
The Little Giants’ start to the season was far from smooth as injuries and Ross’ self-inflicted missteps on and off the court forced the program to withstand adversity and play numerous players in places where they weren’t originally intended to play, such as freshmen LaBronze Barnett, Kurt Harrison and junior Jaevon Martin.
Tuesday night, however, for the first time this season the Little Giants suited up the team they thought they’d have night-in and night-out – plus the addition of players who’ve benefitted from their experience from being pressed into service sooner than expected — and the result was a golf ball that is now flying a little further than before.
The Little Giants led from start to finish at Toledo Woodward and picked up their second win of the season in a 54-38 victory.
“We’re like that golf ball,” Cahill said. “We’ve taken some hits. We’ve gotten some dents and we’ve taken some baggage. But if we can do the right things and not beat ourselves up, I think we can go now.”
Tuesday night the Little Giants shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter, building a 14-8 lead after the opening eight minutes. Ross added to its lead in the second, leading by as many as 13, until Woodward closed the first half on an 11-3 run to narrow the Little Giants’ lead down to five entering halftime.
“I really didn’t feel like we played well in the second quarter, we really got careless with the ball, we didn’t rebound,” Cahill said. “We play a lot of Me-basketball, at times. Part of it is because we have kids in new places but part of it is we play Me-basketball.”
The second half saw Ross play team-basketball and crash the glass. Ross tightened on defense and limited Woodward’s second-chance opportunities as the Little Giants hauled in 55 rebounds on the night.
Ross maintained an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter and never allowed Woodward back in the game. The Little Giant defense allowed just two field goals and five points and cruised to the victory.
“We didn’t give up second shots as much in the second half and we got a lot of good rebounding from the kids,” Cahill said
“I thought Bronzie gave us good minutes tonight. (Jabryis Heidelburg) was dynamic and got to the rim. It’s nice when you’ve got a full complement of guys. This is the team we thought we’d have at the start of the season and this is the first time we’ve had it together.”
Heidelburg scored a game-high 18 points while Bryce McKinstry added 12. While Bryce Root had a tough night shooting, it didn’t discourage his defensive play as he led Ross with 12 rebounds. Martin, Hayden Lehmann and Ben Gedeon each hauled in nine rebounds.
“Ben is as tough a kid as we put on the floor right now,” Cahill said if Gedeon. “He gets loose balls, he does the dirty work, he goes and rebounds and it’s not like he’s skying or dunking, but he just fights.
“Right now, he is giving us a lot of things. I think losing him (in foul trouble) in the first half hurts us in so many ways because he knows what he’s doing. His dad was the coach here, so he’s like a coach on the floor, and he gives us that tough edge that we need.”
The Little Giants improve to 2-8 overall this season and host Oregon Clay (2-11) Friday night at 7:30.
Fremont Ross 54, Toledo Woodward 38
FR| 14—13—14—13 54
TW| 8—14—11—5 38
FREMONT ROSS (54)
LaBronze Barnett 6; Ethan Chumley 3; Hayden Lehmann 6; Jabryis Heidelburg 18; Ben Gedeon 3; Bryce Root 2; Connor Malan 2; Jaevon Martin 2; Bryce McKinstry 12.
TOLEDO WOODWARD (38)
Lear 12; Smith 7; Chizmer 5; Porter 8; Burt 1; Overton 3; Hunt 2.