By DAVE HANNEMAN
FOSTORIA — It took Fostoria a long, long time to notch its first win of the basketball season.
But Thom Loomis and his Redmen were sure in a hurry to get there.
“We’re small. We’re quick. We need to run. That’s the way we want to play — a lot,” Loomis said after Fostoria’s get-and-go style allowed the Redmen to build a 16-point halftime lead that proved to be just enough to hold off Rossford, 75-70, in a Northern Buckeye Conference matchup on Friday.
Junior forward Aneas Cousin came through with a huge 25-point, 11-rebound double-double in the win. Maalik Tucker missed most of the third quarter due to a hard fall he took while battling Rossford’s 6-foot-6 center Lucas Warner for the ball, but still finished with 18 points. Trae Anderson had 13 points and Devin Mauricio 12.
Rossford featured a balanced offense as well. Warner and Peyton Sloan both had 13 points for the Bulldogs, Shamond Smith-Guice had 12 and CamRon Gaston 10.
The outcome left both teams with 1-5 overall and 1-3 NBC records.
Fostoria led 24-20 after a fast-paced first quarter, and three times led by a point in a back-and-forth start to the second period. Mauricio, Cousin and Tucker all scored to keep the Redmen up on the scoreboard, but Rossford answered with 3-pointers from Reed Murphree and Warner to keep the Bulldogs close. A third 3-pointer, this one by Smith-Guice then tied the game 30-30 with 4:50 left in the half.
Over those last few minutes of the half, though, Fostoria’s frantic pace — on offense and defense — was at its best.
Tucker broke the tie with a 3-pointer from the left corner, and ignited a 16-0 run that put the Redmen up 46-30 at the half. Cousin added a basket during the run, Mauricio knocked down both a ‘2’ and a ‘3’ and Avondre Reed, a sophomore sub just into the game for the finals seconds of the half, nailed an NBA-length ‘3’ to best the buzzer.
“Our focus was to get (defensive) stops and get out and go,” Loomis said. “That’s what we’ve worked on and tonight was obviously the best we’ve done it.”
Rossford coach Brian Vorst doesn’t mind an up-tempo game. He’d prefer it was his team pushing the pace.
“We like to get in transition, but we also knew Fostoria is very good at getting the ball up and down the floor,” said Vorst, a standout at Kalida High School and a 1,000-point scorer for the University of Findlay now in his 13th season as Rossford’s head coach.
“I like that pace when we are mentally ready to play. Tonight we were not ready to play.”
By the second half, though, Rossford had found that spark that had been missing.
It started with a 4-0 run to end the third quarter, capped by Warner’s rebound and putback. It continued into the fourth quarter where the Bulldogs knocked down five 3-pointers, forced six turnovers while committing none, and pumped in 27 points.
Down by 12 (68-56) with four minutes left, Rossford surged back behind 3-pointers by Gaston (2), Smith-Guice, Sloan and Reed Murphree.
Two free throws by Ryan Jagodzinki cut Fostoria’s deficit to 70-67, and Sloan answered Cousin’s driving lay-in with a ‘3’ that trimmed it to two, 72-70 with 1:25 left.
Rossford had a chance to take the lead but Murphree’s 3-pointer was off the mark, Mauricio rebounded and the sophomore guard converted one of the two free throws.
Cousin would add two more free throws after another Rossford miss with 34 seconds on the clock.
“We just could not get a stop at the very end when we had to have it,” Vorst said.
“I was not happy with our effort, our leadership in the first half. In warm-ups you could see Fostoria had a little more bounce in their step than we did, and I think that carried over into the game.
“I was happy with our effort, our toughness in the second half. We gutted some things out. Our seniors put a lot of heart into it and the underclassmen stepped up behind them.”
Loomis saw two things in Rossford’s comeback: a panicky look on the faces of his players, and their determination to overcome it.
“We’re real young, and our young guys are going to panic a little bit,” Loomis said.
“To their credit, even though they panicked a little bit, they settled down at the end and did what we needed to do. There are a lot of things we can take out of the good things we did tonight. We can build on that.
“I think the learning curve for us flattened out a little bit tonight. I don’t think it is quite as steep as it was.”
ROSSFORD (1-5, 1-3 NBC)
Gaston 3-13 2-2 10, Jagodzinski 1-3 2-2 5, Smith-Guice 3-7 2–4 11, Sloan 6-11 0-0 13, Warner 6-13 0-2 13, Perry 0-0 1-2 1, Reynolds 1-4 6-8 8, Murphree 3-12 0-0 9. TOTALS: 25-63 13-20–70.
FOSTORIA (1-5, 1-3 NBC)
Anderson 5-8 2-3 13, Cousin 9-12 6-8 25, Ward 2-5 0-0 4, Bemis 0-2 0-0 0, Tucker 6-8 3-5 18, Mauricio 4-5 2-4 12, Sierra 0-0 0-0 0, Boff 0-1 0-0 0, Kirby 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 28-42 13-20–75.
Rossford 20 10 13 27 — 70
Fostoria 24 22 9 20 — 75
3-Point GOALS: Rossford 11-33 (Gaston 2-7, Jogodzinski 1-2, Smith-Guice 3-4, Reynolds 0-1, Sloan 1-6, Murphree 3-12, Warner 1-1); Fostoria 6-11 (Reed 1-1, Anderson 103, Cousin 1-1, Bemis 0-2, Tucker 1-1, Mauricio 2-3).
rebounds: Rossford 23 (Warner 7); Fostoria 39 (Cousin 11, Kirby 4).
turnovers: Rossford 6, Fostoria 19.
junior varsity: Fostoriia, 65-45.
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