WHERE ARE THEY NOW
November 27, 2012Rossville Middle High School
HEAD: Five starters return for Hornets
SUB: Hornets look to improve on 10-12 season
ROSSVILLE – The Rossville boys’ basketball team finished below .500 at 10-12 last season, but expectations are sky-high in northwest Clinton County this season.
The Hornets return four starters and a fifth that was a part-time starter last year. They also have 89 percent of their scoring coming back.
“We’re ahead of schedule from where we were last year,” said second-year head coach Dave Mosson. “The kids had a great summer, gotten stronger, gotten a year older so I’m going to be real disappointed if our win-loss record isn’t better than it was last year. Lebanon’s going to be strong and Frankfort’s going to be a bear but we should be able to compete with our schedule.”
Rossville is led offensively by its junior 1-2 scoring punch of 6-foot-4 junior forward Brandon Tonsoni (14.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.4 assists per game) and 5-10 junior guard Austin Miller (13.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apg).
Both are excellent sharpshooters from 3-point land, with Tonsoni hitting 40 percent of his 3-point shots (54 of 136) and Miller 39 percent (50 of 128).
“We definitely want to build on last year. A whole year together is going to help with the flow,” Tonsoni said. “We have expectations for ourselves which we’d like to accomplish but we’re not feeling any pressure. We just want to go out there and do our best every night.”
Tonsoni spent the offseason playing AAU ball in Indianapolis, working on driving the ball against better defenders and his pull-up jumper.”
Mosson said both Tonsoni and Miller have improved on other facets of the game during the offseason.
“They’ve both really expanded their games as far as getting to the basket this summer,” Mosson said. “Austin’s ball-handling has gotten better. He’s confident going right or left and is still capable of hitting threes. That makes him dangerous.”
Running the show at point guard for the third consecutive season is senior guard James Baker. He led the team in field-goal shooting percentage last year at 53 percent, averaging 8.0 ppg, 3.5 apg, and 4.0 rpg.
Both Mosson and Tonsoni said that Baker, who has relied on driving the lane for lay-ups the past two years, has developed a mid-range jump shot.
“He’s a little more confident going up from 15-feet in and nailing those shots,” Mosson said. “Go back to the (Central) Catholic game last year and he burned them inside for 3-4 buckets early in the game and in the second half they let him have that jump shot and shut off his penetration. He’s making better decisions on the run.”
Baker says the team’s chemistry has gotten better over the past year.
“That’s going to help us knowing where each other are,” Baker said. “I don’t think we’re really going to try to set a limit to (our potential). We’re going to go our hardest and get what we get. We have a chance to do whatever we want to do. It’s just our mindset. We’d all like to see the team succeed so we want to contribute to that.”
The fate of the team’s season could hinge on the play of 6-5 junior forward Ethan Brenneman (5.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.6 apg). At this time last year, Brenneman was in the hospital facing an illness. But this year Brenneman is 100 percent healthy and ready to make the leap into a big junior campaign.
“It was halfway through the year before we felt he was playing anywhere up to his potential,” Mosson said. “Just the fact he’s healthy is a big deal to us. He’s gotten more aggressive offensively. We depend on him to guard the team’s best offensive player, rebound and handle the ball in a back-up role for James. He’s gotten more confident shooting threes and he’s more confident getting to the basket.”
The fifth starter is 6-1 senior forward Michael Gregorash (5.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 0.7 apg), who Mosson calls the Hornets’ most physical player.
“We’re not running any plays for him, so he’s going to have to offensive rebound and do the stuff you don’t get a lot of credit for,” Mosson said. “He’ll guard the best post player and he does a nice job running the floor.”
Rossville has a number of contributors coming off the bench, including 5-10 senior forward Brad Myers (0.5 ppg), 6-1 junior forward Austin Meyers, 6-2 sophomore forward Clayton Howard (2.0 ppg) and 6-1 senior guard/forward Eli Wilson.
“We’ve got a lot of pieces. We’re going to be good,” Baker said.
Mosson said each bench player brings a little something different to the table.
“Brad’s a set 3-point shooter and Eli will run into walls for you,” Mosson said. “Clayton’s a big, gangly kid who’s a little more offensive-minded than Eli but he’s a smart kid. Austin Meyers is pretty versatile. The problem is none of them have varsity experience. There’s talent there, they’ve got to get used to playing at the varsity level.”
Tonsoni said the team has the confidence it can win every game.
“Fifteen games is a good goal. We’ll see what happens,” Tonsoni said. “Just bring it every night. We see the polls and some schools ranked and we want to be in the conversation. We want to get noticed, bring it every night and show it on the floor.”