Cosmos Basketball: Move closer to postseason contention
By Andrew Rudasky
The Ross Cosmos are cruising through their schedule with a string of dominating home games this week, beating down their boys varsity basketball League VIII rivals by wide double-digit margins.
On Friday, January 20 the Cosmos whooped visiting Smithtown Christian 64-36. They followed up on this with another equally impressive home win, 57-39, against the Class-C Southold Settlers on Monday, January 23.
Prior to this week, the Cosmos haven’t kept an opposing team under forty points all season long.
“I was very happy with our defense tonight,” said Cosmos’ Head Coach Kelly McKee after the Southold win.
The two wins give the Cosmos a winning record, 4-3, for the first time since a January 9 loss to the Pierson Whalers. The team needs at least seven wins in order to secure a place in the Class-D playoffs.
“[Southold] is a good Class-C School, and for us to beat them it is a big win for us,” said McKee, whose team is now 2-2 at home.
More than just helping them win games, the Cosmos’ new found defensive toughness is beginning to change the identity of the team.
This season Ross had previously won games by running up the score on its competition, relying on senior shooting guard Liam Chaskey, senior forward Hayden Aldredge, junior forward Roosevelt Odidi and senior point guard Fuhito Yoshida to take turns driving the lane and outscoring their opponent.
The tipping point might have occurred last week when the Cosmos displayed their worst defensive performance of the year, allowing 92 points against the Bridgehampton Killer Bees on January 17. The Cosmos posted an impressive 77 points in the game, but their lack of a committed interior defense let the Bees run wild in the post.
“We have been trying to put together some things that are different [on defense],” said McKee, “and I think the team is doing a really good job…our defense is better than it’s been.”
In both contests this week, Ross has been intimidating in the post. The Cosmos front court, comprised of Odidi and Aldredge, combined for 24 rebounds in the win against Smithtown Christian and 26 rebounds in the win over Southold.
Combined with effective half-court traps, the Ross defense was to create multiple turnovers against both teams, this in turn led to more scoring opportunities for the Cosmos.
Aldredge led the team in scoring in the Smithtown Christian win with 17 points, Odidi added 15, while Senior shooting guard Liam Chaskey finished with 14.
Point Guard Fuhito Yoshida had a game high 16 points in the Southold win on Monday, Odidi contributed 12 points of his own, this despite being benched for almost half of the game.
Further boosting the Cosmos has been the emergence of a bench presence this week. In each contest the Cosmos received 12 points from the bench. Cosmos reserve players like Dylan Stilin and Max Rowen have been able to get quality minutes in recent weeks and contributed greatly to Ross’ defensive turnaround.
“I think that the more that we can play [bench players], the more they get the experience, the more they get involved in the game, the more it will help us down the road,” said McKee.
Ross’ stretch at home continues when they welcome the visiting Greenport Porters on Friday, January 27. The game is a rematch from December 12 when Ross fended off a late Porters’ rally to walk away with a 55-44 victory.
“We beat [Greenport] over there, but I think we caught them sleeping, I think we caught them a little flat,” said McKee. “They are a good team, and I guarantee that this will be a much closer game.”
The following day, Saturday, January 28, Ross will host the Knox Falcons in a non-league game.