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Published: Saturday, 12/2/2006

NLL: Bowling Green vs. Fremont Ross: 'D' lights offensive fire for BG

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Fremont Ross  Devon Johnson guards Bowling Green s Patrick
Graham last night in the opener for both schools. Fremont Ross Devon Johnson guards Bowling Green s Patrick Graham last night in the opener for both schools.
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FREMONT It took two quarters for Bowling Green s defense to get going, but the Bobcats eventually overwhelmed a shaky Fremont Ross offense in a sloppy game typical of a season-opener.

Bowling Green trailed by three at the half, but then held the Little Giants to just two total points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth. The Bobcats opened the second half with a 32-4 run and went on to slay the Little Giants 62-35.

In the decisive third quarter, Fremont Ross turned the ball over 10 times, was just 1-of-7 from the floor and got outrebounded 12-3.

I don t know if it was nerves or jitters or what, said BG coach Von Graffin. We just needed to get our energy level up. Once we got our legs underneath us, we got going. Our defense was the difference in the second half.

The Bobcats came out red hot from the field and led 16-13 after the first quarter. But BG quickly cooled off, making just one shot from the field in the second quarter. The Bobcats, who were 1-of-9 from the floor, also missed 2 of 6 free throw attempts.

But Bowling Green, the preseason favorite to win the NLL, ended up forcing 24 turnovers, including 16 in the second half. The Bobcats also held a 30-22 advantage on the boards. The teams combined for 41 miscues.

Seniors A.J. Donnell and Jordan Fortney led all scorers with 13 points apiece. Blaise Markey scored 12 and Patrick Graham finished with 10.

But Fremont Ross finished the second quarter with a 10-3 run. The Little Giants took their first lead of the game with 2:02 left in the quarter. Ryan Croudup, a junior forward who finished with a team-high 12 points, scored six consecutive points over the final two minutes. Croudup s offensive putback helped Fremont Ross grab a 25-22 lead at the half.

Coach got on us pretty good about our defense [at halftime], Markey said. He told us that if we don t play good defense the offense will be even harder. In the second half we really picked up our defense and the offense just came.

Fremont Ross had five turnovers over the first four minutes of the third quarter. BG took advantage of the miscues for a 34-27 lead with 2:46 left.

I thought we executed fairly well in the first half, said Ross coach Mark Gedeon. But we had two quick turnovers to start the second half and that really swung the momentum. Once that happened I think our inexperience showed. We tried to make the six-point play instead of getting into our offense.

BG did not hit a 3-pointer in the first half and opened the game just 1-of-13 from beyond the arc. But the Bobcats were 3-of-3 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Patrick Graham hit BG s first 3-pointer of the night to give his team a 10-point lead 37-27 with just over two minutes to go in the third quarter. Markey hit a 3-pointer that put BG up 44-27 with 6:40 left. He then put it completely out of reach with another 3 that made it 49-29 with 5:07 remaining.

Once you get two or three it just keeps building, Markey said.

Donnell, who also finished with five rebounds, said controlling the boards was critical.

We fixed our defense in the second half, Donnell said. Things just got rolling. This is huge. We lost six seniors so we have a bunch of new guys. This is good for our confidence and we want to keep rolling into the NLL.

Graffin said BG has now beaten Fremont Ross four years in a row. The Bobcats had dropped eight straight to the Little Giants before Graffin took over.

We got going when we started attacking the basket. We need to bring that effort from the get- go, Graffin said.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.



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