Cumberland's Ross Hemmen steps up his game as a junior

Cumberland's Ross Hemmen steps up his game as a junior

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TOLEDO — In Tuesday's Lincoln Prairie Conference boys' basketball game, Cumberland's 6-0 junior guard, Ross Hemmen, took over for the first four minutes of the second half as the Pirates increased their halftime lead of 14-13 to 24-13.

For Hemmen, that's been a regular occurrence this season.

Hemmen started the half off with a three-point play followed by one free throw and then a layup as he ran off a screen set by Wyatt Brant. After a Brant bucket, it was Hemmen again scoring — this time on a feed from Wyatt Napier.

"We set up some things for Ross, dribble penetration, and he made some nice reads and we went on a nice run," said Cumberland coach Justin Roedl.

Though Arcola came back to win 46-40, Ross led the Pirates with 13 points and three assists. 

"That is the best feeling when you are out there and making shots and everything is rolling," said Hemmen. "There is no feeling like it."

Hemmen leads the 8-11 Pirates, who are 2-1 in the LPC, in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals at 15.9, 6.3, 3.4 and 2.1, respectively. He is shooting 48 percent from the field, including 28 percent form beyond the three-point line. He is a 68 percent free throw shooter as well. 

"The weight lifting program at the school helped a lot," Hemmen said. "Throughout the summer I shot a lot and used the gun (shooting gun machine which throws basketballs at you to shoot). I honestly didn't think my season would be going this well as I was coming from being a role player. We had four spots to fill, including Zack Wolke."

This is a vast improvement from his sophomore season when he averaged 4.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.6 steals while shooting 43 percent from the field, including 25 percent from three-point range. He shot 63 percent from the free-throw line. The Pirates were 18-13 last season. 

Roedl said he could see the improvement over the summer. 

"He was basically unstoppable and our most consistent player over the summer," said Roedl. "Most of his improvement is his gain in physical strength. He also grew a little bit, which helped a ton. He has much more of a leadership role this year and a lot of what we do runs through him."

His season-high in rebounds was 15 in a 48-36  win over Patoka, and he had nine assists in a 66-57 LPC victory over Tri-County as well as six steals in a 58-26 win over Argenta-Oreana. 

"His relentlessness is what stands out for me," said Roedl. "He makes his fair share of mistakes, but he never quits and he gives 100 percent all of the time."

Hemmen is one of three returning lettermen on a junior dominated team, with the others being Wyatt Napier and Brennyn Cutts. 

"Hemmen is a leader for our team," said Roedl. "He is somewhat a vocal leader, but mostly his work ethic and how to go hard at all times."

Hemmen, who also plays baseball and football, has been playing basketball since the fourth grade. 

"Basketball is definitely my favorite sport, but football helps it," said Hemmen. "It is one of the sports which helps especially from the strength aspect."

As for Hemmen's defense, Roedl, whose team allows 50 points per game, said, "With his overall strength he is often stuck guarding bigger players, but more times than not he ends up on one of the top two offensive players from the opposing team. I believe his strength on defense is his physical strength and refusal to quit."

Hemmen's high-game is 29 points in a 70-29 win over Oblong where he was 13-of-18 from the field with eight rebounds, four assists and five steals. 

"We ran the same baseline out of bounds play almost the entire game and he scored at will," said Roedl. "If he played the entire game I think he could have scored 50. He also set the defensive tone for us that day with our full court pressure. "

Hemmen, who said he hasn't though about playing in college yet, said, "My goal is to help my team win and improve every day to where by next year I can be a standout player."

Hemmen, who like most kids at a younger age, went to Cumberland High School games. He said his role models are two players that he has played with.

"As a freshman Tyson Magee was my biggest role model," said Hemmen. "He was a heck of a player. I also like Zach Wolke last year. "

Roedl said they run about half of the sets for Hemmen. 

"We do that because he often times has a smaller guard on him that he can overpower down low," said Roedl. 

Cumberland hosts Decatur LSA Friday in a LPC game. 

"Ross plays basically all 32 minutes for us and never asks for a break and continues to go hard all game," said Roedl. "His work ethic in games and practice is unbelievable and a great example for those around him. When he is on the floor he makes the other four players around him that much better. He is also a very coachable kid who doesn't take criticism personally and tries to learn from every situation."

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Contact Mike Monahan at (217)-238-6854. Follow him on Twitter: @monahanmikejgtc


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