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Published: March 03, 2009 11:44 pm   

BOYS BASKETBALL: Ross has big impact on Vikings

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Greg Ross calls his team a “second family.”

The players certainly can’t disagree.

“He’s almost like a father figure to all of us,” Grand Island senior Alex Neutz said of Ross. “He’s brought in a really positive atmosphere. We want to play for him, hustle for him and win for him. We don’t want to disappoint him.”

“He’s the one that got us committed to basketball,” senior Greg Feathers added. “He’s helped us grow up.”

Ross came to GI four years ago as the program’s junior varsity coach. The long-time North Tonawanda varsity coach was an Island resident and wanted a chance to work with his children through their high school years.

He’s done that and more, leading the Vikings to the Class A-1 semifinals tonight at Buffalo State College in just his second year as the school’s varsity coach.

“This is what we’ve been working for,” Ross said of his team’s appearance at Buffalo State. “It feels like we’re on the right course now.”

Ross also felt a confident a year ago until his team was abruptly upset in the pre-quarterfinals by Starpoint. It’s a loss that still stings for GI.

“If we’re ever dogging it, coach always brings up that game as a reminder of how hard you have to work every day,” Feathers said. “If you want it, you’ve got to bust your butt for it.”

That same type of work ethic is clearly evident in Ross’ extensive preparation for games. Neutz and Feathers concurred that it’s not uncommon for Ross to spend hours upon hours dissecting GI’s opponents through game film, scouting reports, box scores etc...

“You can just tell all of the time he spends ensuring we have the best chance possible to win,” Neutz said.

But now, it’s in the players hands, Ross said.

“It’s been a neat relationship with this group… but it comes down to what we can do against (Williamsville South’s) shooters (today),” the coach said.

“It’s time to leave it all on the floor,” Neutz added. “We’re prepared. Now we just have to play to our capabilities.”