By SHANNON DOVE
FOSTORIA — The third time was not a charm for Fostoria High School’s basketball team.
For the third time in as many games, the Redmen fell behind by 20 points before rallying back.
But the hole was, again, too deep Friday, and FHS fell to Rossford 92-88 in Northern Buckeye Conference play.
“I said to them, ‘I don’t know why you think that you need to challenge yourselves to see how far you can get down before you decide you’re going to play and come back,'” Fostoria coach Thom Loomis said. “The Columbian game, then Eastwood was the same thing Tuesday night — that’s three games in a row that we have done exactly the same thing.”
Loomis walked into the gymnasium with a heavy heart after his father passed away earlier in the afternoon. He didn’t tell his players until after the game.
Fostoria trailed by 20 points for much of the third and ended the quarter down 73-54, but in the fourth quarter the Redmen looked like a different team. In the first minute they cut the lead to 75-60 with two free throws apiece from Maalik Tucker and Aneas Cousin, plus a fast break layup by Tucker off a Rossford turnover.
“We finally started to execute our game plan in the late third and fourth quarter,” Loomis said. “I’m not sure where we were mentally for the first two-and-a-half quarters. We played none of the defense that we intended to play for two-and-a-half quarters and offensively we were just out of sync.
“Late in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we got the game to the pace we wanted it to be played at.”
Later in the quarter Fostoria cut the lead to less than 10 points with an 8-0 run, starting with a pair of free throws by Alex Sierra at 3:35 to bring the score to 86-72. Bryan Stenson followed with a 3-point play at 3:13 and at 2:26 Sierra converted a 3-point play of his own, slicing the Bulldogs lead to 86-78.
Trailing 90-83 in the final minute of play, Sierra hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, Rossford’s Ben Morrison missed a pair of free throws at the 27-second mark, then Stenson scored to bring the Redmen within two points 90-88. Ethan DeWese converted a pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining for the 92-88 final.
“Fostoria battled back,” Rossford coach Brian Vorst said. “They showed a ton of maturity, they showed a ton of character and you can tell the coach is really turning a corner with those boys. He has to be incredibly proud with how hard they played. With all the adversity they had tonight with injury and with foul trouble, those boys didn’t back down and they just kept going.”
Vorst credits his players with remaining calm while the Redmen stormed back, outscoring the Bulldogs 34-19 in the fourth quarter.
“They’ve been through this before, not at this level but in travel basketball and stuff,” he said. “It’s just a matter of reminding them they’ve done this; we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re going to be OK.
“Hopefully it was a game where our boys matured a little bit.”
DeWese scored a career high 30 points to lead all scorers.
“He’s been playing really well for us,” Vorst said of DeWese. “He was really aggressive tonight, got really good looks. Guys are giving him the ball in good positions.”
CamRon Gaston scored 18 points and dished out a team-best nine assists while Morrison finished with 16 points, Reed Murphree had 13 and Gavin DeWese added 11.
Sierra and Stenson both had career highs with 24 and 20 points, respectively. Sierra also pulled down a game high 11 rebounds. Tucker finished with 13 points.
Despite fouling out, two other Redmen scored in double figures. Dylan Sheets scored 10 points before leaving the game with 3:43 left in the fourth and Cousin fouled out at 2:08 with 15 points.
Fostoria won the junior varsity game 63-61, led by Dom Settles’ 16-point effort.
ROSSFORD (2-6, 2-2 NBC)
Morrison 6-3–16, Gaston 6-5–18, Murphree 4-2–13, G. DeWese 4-3–11, Croom 0-0–0, E. DeWese 10-8–30, Perry 0-0–0, Walker 1-2–4. TOTALS: 31-52 23-33 “” 92.
FOSTORIA (2-5, 1-3 NBC)
Sheets 4-0–10, Mauricio 2-0–5, Reed 0-0–0, Sierra 9-4–24, Cousin 5-2–15, Stenson 9-1–20, Ward 0-1–1, Tucker 4-4–13, Caughman 0-0–0, Settles 0-0–0. TOTALS: 29-57 12-21 “” 88.
Rossford 20 22 31 19 — 92
Fostoria 15 18 21 34 — 88
3-Point GOALS: Rossford 7-21 (Murphree 3, E. DeWese 2, Morrison, Gaston); Fostoria 10-22 (Cousin 3, Sheets 2, Sierra 2, Mauricio, Tucker, Stenson).
rebounds: Rossford 25 (E. DeWese 6); Fostoria 34 (Sierra 11).
turnovers: Rossford 9; Fostoria 9.
junior varsity: Fostoria, 63-61.