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April 4, 2014

Ross heads boys newcomers

VELMA — With eight graduating seniors gone from a state tournament team in 2013, Velma-Alma had a lot of newcomers on its 2014 team.

Some were not completely new to the team, but even those had their roles dramatically increased. Sophomore Ryan Ross was one of the players who went from spectator to starter the instant those eight seniors left, and after his strong 2014 season, he will be expected to do even more.

That’s because of the confidence coach Kenny Bare has in the not-so-young-anymore point guard. Sitting in his office at the beginning of the season, when seniors Jaz Gayanich and Conner Sullivan were the only Comets consistently in the scorebook, Bare pointed to Ross as the answer to the team’s offensive struggles. He delivered and earned the 2014 All-Area Newcomer Award in the process.

“It’s been one of my main goals. I’m proud of myself for it,” Ross said. “The individual awards are nice, but I’ve got my sights set on higher things. I want to get that gold ball.”

Ross nearly got there this season. Though the Comets lost in the quarterfinals, it was to eventual champion Glencoe. When the playoffs started, Ross had a scoring surge to help Velma-Alma to a somewhat surprise return to the state tournament, given the large turnover from the year before. Senior Alan Beck said he wouldn’t have made it back for the third time in his career had it not been for Ross.

“No not at all,” Beck said. “A good team has to have a quality point guard.”

Beck pointed at Ross’ assists per game, which skyrocketed in the playoffs. Ross said having Gayanich and Sullivan to pass to made it a lot easier. They just needed a little space to create their own shots and Ross was happy to give them that. To always think positively is one of the things that Bare values in Ross

“He is a positive person, who thinks he can will the team to victory just by himself, and that is unusual for a kid that young,” Bare said. “He really grabbed his role and started doing more for us throughout the playoffs.”

Next year, the goal for Ross is to score more. Bare thinks it won’t be too hard for him as he shot about 35 percent from behind the arc this season. He just didn’t put up as many shots as he is going to have to with Gayanich, Sullivan and Beck gone.

 

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