Girls SAC tournament
No. 8 Luers vs. No. 9 North Side, 9 a.m.
No. 7 Snider vs. No. 10 Wayne, 12:30 p.m.
No. 4 Carroll vs. No. 5 Concordia, 5:45 p.m.
No. 3 South Side vs. No. 6 Dwenger, 10:45 a.m.
No. 2 Northrop vs. No. 7 Snider/No. 10 Wayne, 12:30 p.m.
No. 1 Homestead vs. No. 8 Luers/No. 9 North Side, 4 p.m.
Semifinals, 3 p.m., 4:45 p.m.
Championship, 4 p.m.
Bishop Dwenger's Ellen Ross has evolved into a versatile player and has used her father Jon's experiences to learn and improve.
A 5-foot-11 Butler recruit, Ross got the ability to learn from her father, who played forward at Notre Dame from 1990-94.
“I've been playing since third grade, and he's always been very smart with the game. He really knows how to play, the basics of things, and he taught that to me. My basketball IQ is high just because of him,” Ross said. “I started as a post player and I stopped growing, so I had to develop my game outside, but the basics of footwork have really helped me in the game.”
A four-year starter, she averaged a team-high 15.3 points and 9.6 rebounds as a junior. The time spent with her father has been important for Ross in her development, as seen by Saints coach Cleveland Inge.
“She's seen where her dad has gone and what he's accomplished, how far he's pushed the game for himself, and she knows he expects a lot out of her,” Inge said.
“It's hard to sometimes get kids to a certain level if you've never been there yourself. He's been a huge advantage for us in our coaching staff, but the two of them together, they've grown together. He's pushed her and she's pushed back, and they enjoy the competition between one another of growing and learning.”
Her father's experience with the recruiting process, even though it was decades ago, also proved to be a valuable asset.
“The recruiting process was really fun,” Ross said. “It's really fun to be in that position and around such great athletes and players and coaches. (My dad) went through it, so even though I am the oldest child, it was like having an older brother in a way as someone to look up.”
Ross also took up volleyball in fifth grade and played for Dwenger's SAC and sectional championship teams. Her younger sister, Madi, was this year's SAC Glass Spike Award winner as the conference's top player. But there's no sibling rivalry when it comes to volleyball.
“It's a lot of fun (playing with Madi),” Ross said. “That's her sport, and I can have my sport, so we're not really competing, but it's something we can do together.
“I just played basketball growing up. I started volleyball in fifth grade. I just kind of liked it, played through high school. I think dual-sport athletes use more muscles and it's really good, as far as performance, and less injury for sure.”
The sixth-seeded Saints open the SAC tournament against third-seeded South Side on Thursday. Ross and her team know it's a tall task, but she has confidence in the team.
“We're really a well-rounded team. It's not like we're only five deep,” she said. “Everybody's good, and we have that feeling that everyone has your back. I think everyone's pretty happy. We all have a lot of fun out there, and everybody just loves playing the game out there, which is fun to see.”
Inge said he has seen Ross' influence on the team as she uses her talents to make the team better.
“It's been an honor and a privilege to even be part of her growth, to watch her improve and get stronger, better and smarter and become a student of the game,” he said. “She's taught all of us different things. She's played so much basketball at different levels and in different leagues, but it's been such a neat thing to watch her jell with the team.
“She's never been one to take over and say, 'I got it, ride on my back.' She includes others, she makes the team around her better, and we've all enjoyed that. The team enjoys it, too. They've noticed that it's not some individual out there trying to get what she can get, as much as she wants to drag and ride along with them. She wants to enjoy the journey that we're on and just continual growth.”