ROSSVILLE – There’s a hope and a belief that Rossville’s extremely difficult regular season schedule will pay dividends as the Hornets prepare for Class A Sectional 54 action this week.
According to the Sagarin Ratings, Rossville has played the fourth-toughest schedule in Class A – and the most difficult among public schools. Rossville has played the 171st-toughest schedule in the state overall, trailing only Lafayette Central Catholic (107), Fort Wayne Blackhawk (152) and Fort Wayne Canterbury (163) among its classmates.
It’s this preparation that leads Rossville head coach Dave Mosson to believe it’ll pay off this week.
“I tell the kids all the time, they’re always reading in the paper about how difficult Central Catholic’s schedule is but when it gets right down to it, ours is every bit as difficult as theirs,” Mosson said. “It’d be nice to be 16-4 or 17-3 but I don’t think you get any better from that kind of schedule. Although this year, with as many close games as we had, we could be 15-5, 16-4, but that’s water under the bridge.”
Among those opponents include Frankfort (17-4), Lebanon (15-5), West Lafayette (16-5), Pioneer (17-3), Delphi (16-5), Western (12-8), Sheridan (13-8) and Central Catholic (13-8).
While playing those teams has prepared the Hornets for the sectional, the aura of Lafayette Central Catholic always hangs over them. The Knights have won the sectional title 14 of the last 15 years, and have won this particular sectional nine consecutive seasons.
The Rossville-LCC regular season matchup was a close one, a 58-52 Knight win, but it was close last year too and Central Catholic routed the Hornets in the sectional semifinals.
But both teams, who are the favorites to reach the sectional final, have work to do before a potential rematch. Rossville opens up postseason action tonight against host Tri-Central (9-11) in the second game and Central Catholic (13-8) takes on Frontier (8-13) in the opener.
“The road to Saturday night’s pretty difficult but we’re going to take it one day at a time,” Mosson said. “The theme is survive and advance, and that’s the name of the game when it comes to tourney time.”
And if Rossville and LCC win, Clinton Prairie (2-18) and Faith Christian (4-17) loom in the semifinals, respectively.
“We got to focus on one game at a time. We don’t want to overlook Tri-Central or Prairie, they’re both pretty good teams,” said junior Ethan Brenneman.
Tri-Central doesn’t have any double-digit scorers but they do have three averaging 9.0 or more: senior Clay Smith (9.8), senior Kolby Thomas (9.7) and junior Garrett Dick (9.5). The Trojans, much like the Hornets, are fond of hoisting the 3-point shot, averaging 14 per game.
Rossville, by comparison, shoots nearly 15 a contest.
“Maybe we’ll set a state record for threes attempted,” Mosson said. “We’ll try to force them to their off-hand, try to get up in them and not give them enough room to get a shot off. On the other side of that, they have to defend our threes.”
Rossville’s X-factor, as it has been much of the season, is Brenneman. The junior has the ability to play all five positions, and shines in nearly every facet of the game. Brenneman is averaging 8.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Oh, and he also usually draws the task of defending the other team’s best player.
“It’s scary, Ethan does almost everything for us except give us water bottles,” said senior James Baker.
Mosson surmises that Brenneman could average 15-16 points per game if he didn’t focus so much on the other aspects of his game.
Rossville’s starting five has played solidly for much of the year. Junior Brandon Tonsoni is the county’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game and is knocking in 42 percent of his 3-pointers. Classmate Austin Miller is averaging 11.7 points a contest and senior Michael Gregorash is just shy of double figures at 9.0 per contest.
“They’re going to have to guard all five people,” Mosson said.
Brenneman averaging 8.5 ppg
Rossville junior Ethan Brenneman is averaging 8.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game this season.
Rossville junior Austin Miller is the Hornets’ second-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game.