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The Lane to the Top

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The Lane to the Top

Head Coach David Lane directs the defense against SWOC rival LIttle Miami.

Head Coach David Lane directs the defense against SWOC rival LIttle Miami.

Rick Cassano

Head Coach David Lane directs the defense against SWOC rival LIttle Miami.

Rick Cassano

Rick Cassano

Head Coach David Lane directs the defense against SWOC rival LIttle Miami.

By Keegan Nickoson, Ross High School

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The last two seasons of Varsity Boys Basketball has revealed a huge spike in success. All these wins may be attributed to the leadership of second year Head Coach David Lane.

Lane’s time at Ross began far before he accepted the head coaching job in 2017. Lane was a two year starting point guard for Ross, where he broke the career and season steals record before graduating in 2008.

“Coach Lane was without a doubt the best point guard I coached in all my years of coaching basketball,” said Sean Van Winkle, former head Varsity Coach for Ross, Lakota West, and Hamilton.

With Mr. Van Winkle having 23 years experience coaching high school basketball, that is high praise for Lane. However, it wasn’t just the stats he put up that made Van Winkle give him such a high honor.

“He was the ultimate teammate, he wasn’t a self serving person at all,” said Van Winkle.

These characteristics that he built through his career on and off the court definitely had an impact on Lane being chosen as the new head coach of the Ross Boys Varsity Basketball team.

“I’m on the Board of Education, and when the basketball job came open, I had a lot of interest on who was suggested to be the head coach. When Mr. Martin brought Dave’s name to the board I was overly excited about it,” stated Van Winkle.

Principal of Ross High School, Brian Martin, had a huge say in who would be the next coach of Ross’ boys basketball program.

“Our one concern about Coach Lane was that he had never been a head coach before, and he was a pretty young guy. Typically you don’t see guys in their twenties taking over Varsity programs,” said Martin.

Martin mentioned that those doubts were quickly erased through the interview process.

“He came in and really impressed us with the things he had to say. His success over the last year and a half has reaffirmed that we made a good choice,” said Martin.

Anytime a new coach takes control of a new team, on any level, the chances of finishing with a winning record are low.

“It was very close to the start of the season when he was hired… For somebody to take over at that point as the head coach of a program, that has the recipe for disaster written all over it,” said Jake Richards, Ross Athletic Director.

It wasn’t an unpopular opinion around the community to think the 2017-2018 season would be a rebuilding year. However, senior Tyler Stenger had no doubt in his mind the Rams would be contenders right from the start.

“Right when he got the job I knew we were going to be fine. He coached me on JV and I knew his styles would translate to success at the Varsity level,” said Stenger.

Lane had coached Ross’ boys freshman team for a year before he was promoted to JV head coach where he gained four more years of coaching experience. With help from former coach Sean Van Winkle, Lane could become an even better coach than his experience would take him.  

“Coach Van Winkle has been very influential in my coaching career. I learned a lot playing for him in high school and I have never stopped trying to learn from him. He was a very successful coach and I constantly lean on him for advice on how to do certain things. I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for him,” said Lane.

At only 28, Lane has led the Rams to a 29-13 record over his first two seasons, forcing the school, and the rest of the community, to believe that he is building something special: A program that is here to stay.  

“He’s laid the foundation. It started with last year’s group, and this year’s team is an even better mold of it,” stated senior point guard Dylan Zimmerman.  

Zimmerman, who has been an impactful varsity contributor since his sophomore year, had this to say about his head coach. 

“I’ve never had a coach like Coach Lane. He’s at that age where he’s still young enough to get into drills and compete with us, but he’s also old enough to have that knowledge of a really good head coach.”

Richards noticed one very special characteristic about this team: the effort they bring to the court night in and night out. The result of the culture and relationships Lane has built.

“Those kids would run through a brick wall for Coach Lane… It’s tough to teach kids that. It’s gotta be something that you’ve established, some foundation you’ve created with the kids… On a team level, it’s very hard to create that mentality, and Coach Lane has done that,” said Richards.

Lane has lead the Rams to an impressive 14-5 overall record, and 8-3 SWOC record for the 2019 season, good enough for second place in the conference. Not only has he brought a winning tradition back to Ross, but the electricity felt in the gym on Friday nights has returned in grand fashion.

“If you look at the student section, it’s a bunch of kids yelling, screaming, and cheering as hard as they can for their team. They are apart of the team, that cheering section wins games…” said Van Winkle.

The Herd saw record attendance for this years game against Harrison. Showing that Lane’s impact has been community wide, branching away from just his team.

Coach Lane’s foundation that he has created has resulted in a 180 degree turnaround in production. The Rams are in a good position to make a push for a SWOC championship, and to make a run in the state tournament.

Make sure to catch a game before the season ends. Ross plays against rival Badin on Feb. 9. at 7:30 pm. Tickets can be bought at the event entrance of RHS from 10 am to 4 pm on Feb. 7, and Feb. 8. Get out and support your Rams.

This story was originally published on Ross High Times on February 6, 2019.

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