Jonathan Alder hoopster Henry Walker goes up for a basket during a game from the 2018-19 season. The Pioneers have a new head coach as Zach Ross replaces Brent Cahill.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The new top man in the Jonathan Alder High School boys basketball program has hit the ground running.
Zach Ross was recently hired to replace Brent Cahill, who stepped down after seven years at the Pioneer helm.
“We held a team camp and then went to a shootout in Dayton,” said Ross. “We won all three of our games against Division I schools, including Huber Heights.”
The Pioneers, who compete in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Division II, will also compete in the Central Ohio Shootout this week.
That event is scheduled to be held at Denison University.
Ross is using the shootouts as a portion of his 10 off-season coaching days, as permitted by the OHSAA.
The new head coach said he’s impressed by what he’s seen so far from a JA team that posted an 18-7 record during the 2018-19 season.
“These are hard-working guys who are buying into what I’m selling,” said Ross. “That’s very important for me and I’ve seen a great work ethic here.
“One of the main words I’ve used this summer with the guys is ‘grit,’” he said. “They are showing a lot of it.”
Ross was one of more than 10 candidates who applied for the job upon Cahill’s resignation.
The New Philadelphia native played one year of collegiate hoops at Mt. Union before ankle problems curtailed his career.
He previous was an assistant coach at Hilliard Bradley High School and then spent one season (2018-19) as the head coach at Johnstown-Monroe.
Ross guided the Johnnies to a 20-6 record last winter.
“It was difficult to tell the guys at Johnstown I was leaving after just one season,” said Ross, who will also serve as a math teacher in the Jonathan Alder district. “The timing wasn’t great.
“However, my family and I live on the west side of Columbus and I wanted to go somewhere on this side of Columbus if the opportunity presented itself.
“I was attracted to the Jonathan Alder position when it became open and you can say this is my ‘dream job,’” said Ross. “Plain City is a great community.”
The new coach was also enthusiastic about the fact he attracted 90 youngsters in grades 3-9 for a camp that was held last week.
“That was a great turnout,” he said.
Whenever there is a new coach in a program, there is always an acclimation period.
Ross, though, said the Pioneers are catching on quickly to his basketball philosophies.
“The guys are learning the new terminology and they realize the sum of what we are trying to do is greater than the parts,” he said.
Alder fans are likely to see a faster pace than during the previous years of Cahill’s slower, half-court tempo.
“We want to get up and down the floor and share the ball,” said Ross. “I want to put pressure on the other team’s defense with our fast-break style of play.”
The new Alder bench boss also labels himself as a defensive-minded coach.
“Hopefully, we’re going to be aggressive and give people problems with our length on defense,” he said.
“There is a lot of talent back from last year’s team and we’re excited about that.”
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