Morrison, Dewese’s cage skills began at youth level

J. Patrick Eaken

Rossford 6-foot-4 junior Ben Morrison and 6-5 junior Gavin Dewese have been playing basketball together for a long time.

Morrison, an Oregon resident, and Dewese, whose family lives in the Eastwood district, southwest of Pemberville and almost in the Bowling Green district, growing up were part of traveling AAU teams that traveled the Midwest.

“They have known each other for a long time,” says Rossford coach Brian Vorst. Vorst and Ben’s father, Brad, a member of the Clay Athletic Hall of Fame, were among those who coached the youth teams. Ben says his father is the reason he is “the player he is today.”

It only seemed fitting that they, and other Rossford players on that AAU team, go to school together and continue playing together. Other local schools have had open enrollment students contribute to their athletic success, especially in football, and this was their chance to shine together on the varsity court.

“We just love playing together. Every single one of us love playing together on the court — that is the team we have,” Morrison said. “Being a part of something special, being a part of one of the better teams at Rossford, is really cool.”

Morrison could not have said it any differently — Rossford is one of the better teams in Ohio. The Bulldogs, 19-1, are ranked fourth in the latest Associated Press Division II state poll and at 13-0, have already defended their Northern Buckeye Conference title heading into their final regular season contest at Woodmore.

Plus, there are marquee wins, like traveling down the road to near Vorst’s hometown, Kalida, to Putnam County’s “Supreme Court,” where the Bulldogs defeated perennial Division III state power Ottawa-Glandorf, 71-57. 

“We played really, really hard and we defended really hard, too,” Vorst said. “We like to think we make life tough on our opponent, and we knocked shots down, and that is a pretty good combination. You play hard, you defend hard and knock shots down you have a chance to get a win and we did all three of those things.”

There is also a 53-49 win over Defiance, a 50-39 win over St. Francis and a 54-48 win over Perrysburg. The only blemish is the 61-45 loss to Division I state perennial power Cleveland St. Ignatius.

“’St. Iggy’ was a great trip. It was a tremendous learning experience, we want to see what that difference is between that level and where we are,” Vorst said. “Curious how far away we are. Kids played hard and did OK. We didn’t shoot it very well and once we acclimated to the pace and physicality of the game we were much better.”

 The Bulldogs are led by another AAU teammate, reigning Northern Buckeye Conference Player of the Year Camron Gaston, a 5-11 senior guard from West Toledo who reached the 1,000-point career scoring mark earlier this season.


‘A man’s attitude’

Morrison is averaging 13.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists, shooting 64 percent (78 for 121) from inside the three-point arc and 35 percent (29 for 83) from outside the arc. 

“Ben, first-of-all works really hard,” Vorst said. “If you watch him play, he does not stop moving, and he just has that uncanny knack of finding an opening and cutting to the rim and people seeing him. He just knows when to cut. I would like to say it is something I taught him, but that would be a 100 percent lie.” 

Morrison’s patented baseline three is a near always-make, he is the sender and recipient of no-look passes, and the rest of his game has come full scale as he closes his third year of varsity basketball.

“He will knock it down. He is shooting well,” Vorst said. “His form is beautiful. If you look at a textbook form, he has a beautiful textbook form and he has shot a lot of shots, so he’s not just rolling in and throwing the ball at the rim. He has paid his dues. He really sees the game, too. He gets some steals that he should not be getting because he anticipates really well.”

Dewese is averaging 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds, but he always seems to finish in the paint, shooting at a 51 percent clip (55 for 107). Depending on the opponent, Gavin has had games where he has scored nearly 30 points. He has also blocked 11 shots.

“He brings a man’s attitude toward our game. He is a physical, strong player who takes a lot of pride in owning the paint,” Vorst said. “We knew that he would give us a presence down there, but he has absolutely exceeded what we expected out of him.

“If he gets inside, he’ll get it. He’s got a real nice touch. Out to about 15 and 18 feet, he has got a real nice touch. He has got a real beautiful jump shot. He just works at it. He is one of those kids who is going to watch a video and then go out in the backyard and driveway and work on it. He is always in his driveway playing ball.”

Not only did Gavin play AAU ball with these guys for at least five years, but so did his older brother Ethan, now a 6-4, 190-pound freshman forward on the Defiance College team who is already getting minutes on the floor. 

The Dewese brothers, Gaston and Morrison led Rossford to a 20-4 season last year and Division II district tournament appearance. Ethan earned Division II second team All-District 7 honors, poured in a career high 31 points and 10 rebounds in his final home game, an 83-44 victory over Woodmore. In conference play, he averaged 14.6 and 13.6 points per game, respectively, as a junior and senior. He also scored 30 in a 92-88 win at Fostoria.

Gavin has spent his entire life playing basketball with Ethan and his oldest brother Colin, an all-league player at Eastwood.

“We have been playing since I can remember, and it always helped me out because I was the smallest and had to go against people who were three and five years older than me because I was younger,” Gavin said. “We still go from time to time, but it is almost too competitive now. We really go at it.”

Vorst has seen this pay off for Gavin, who is over 200 pounds and can throw his weight around in the paint. 

“I know they played a lot of ball together growing up — Colin as well, the older brother,” Vorst said. “Ethan beat on Gavin and I think that is really starting to pay off for Gavin. They have that typical little brother-big brother dynamic going on there where they like to mess with each other as much as they can. 

“But I think when they play, even in practice last year you know that they were brothers because any chance they could get a shot on each other they would. Any chance they could get something over on each other they would. But it’s that competitiveness in between them.”





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