Rams look down and find win

UPPER SANDUSKY – It wasn’t a matter of arrogance. It was just a simple physical fact.

For once, the Upper Sandusky Rams could look down at their opponent and they didn’t waste the opportunity.

Instead, the Rams out-rebounded visiting Mohawk by 13 and were especially dominant on the offensive boards in powering for a 63-32 win here Tuesday night.

“That’s the first time all year we’ve had a size advantage,” Ram coach Shane Adams said after his club improved to 10-8 while dropping the Warriors to 6-11. “We never have a size advantage. We hadn’t had one all year, so we had to understand that part of the game.”

The understanding was thorough and so was the application. Upper Sandusky had a 10-4 advantage on the boards in the first quarter and a 21-11 edge at the half. Not surprising, the Rams built leads of 13-4 and 32-14 at those stops.

“They had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half,” Mohawk coach John Arnold said. “That’s something we talked about before the game. We didn’t really execute our game plan early on.”

The Warriors applied special pressure on Ram season scoring leader Joe Reile early, but senior Trent Howard took the lead instead by hitting a 3-pointer and a jumper in the lane in the first two minutes.

“I was OK with him knocking down that first jumpshot,” Arnold said. “We wanted him to prove it and he did, so we shifted a guy over to him. But we were pushing too far onto their wings, on guys who weren’t going to shoot the ball and when we did that, the backside boards opened up.”

Howard tossed in 20 points, more than double his season average of eight per game. He had seven of those in the first quarter. Then Reile and Stuart Young each scored seven in the second period as the Rams opened the 18-point halftime lead.

The constant for the Rams, besides the rebounding edge, was defense. The North Central Conference leaders in points allowed at 42.2 per game limited the Warriors to 7-of-22 shooting in the first half.

“Everything’s (written) on the (locker room) door and everything says defense for a reason,” Adams said. “Defense is about selflessness, heart and toughness. That’s what we want to be identified by.”

Darby Walton had a couple baskets and Drew Loose and Grant Ekleberry had an inside hoop each as the Warriors trimmed the margin to 14 at 39-25 late in the third period. But Walton and Ekleberry eventually fouled out.

Howard scored eight straight in 1:14 span of the fourth quarter to seal it.

“We came out in the third quarter and did more of what we expected,” Arnold said. “We expected to check out and so forth.

“We didn’t score a lot of points and part of that was frustration,” he said. “But we had five or six easy backdoor layups (that weren’t converted). We just weren’t executing. We didn’t put the ball in the basket.”

Reile had 13 points and Young had 12 to back Howard for the Rams. Freshman Carson Mittermaier had nine rebounds and Cody Collins grabbed seven.

Loose topped Mohawk with 13 points with Walton and Ekleberry each netting six.