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Cheney’s Cameron Hill drives past Conway Springs’ Zach Oswald on Tuesday night in Cheney. Hill finished with 19 points in Cheney’s win. Marc Browning/Eagle correspondent |

Cheney knocks off Conway Springs

Published Jan. 7 at 11:38 p.m. | Last updated Jan. 7 at 11:40 p.m.

Within the Central Plains League, Conway Springs senior Ross Rasmussen is as big of a star as possible.

But outside of the league, Rasmussen isn’t as well known, even though he is scoring at a better clip than anyone in the area with a 26.4 average through the first seven games of the season, and doing so against defenses centered around stopping him.

Conway Springs coach James O’Brien has a theory and it was epitomized on Tuesday night. Rasmussen scored 26 points on the road against Cheney, but Conway Springs lost the game 65-50 dropped to 3-4 on the season.

“I think the recognition comes when you win games,” O’Brien said. “And it’s not going to be Ross Rasmussen that leads us there. It’s going to be all 12 guys winning some basketball games.”

Cheney never resorted to a gimmick defense to defend Rasmussen, rather applying full-court pressure to ratchet up the tempo and force the ball out of the premier scorer’s hands.

While it led to a few more points than coach Lee Baldwin was comfortable allowing, Cheney did far more damage on the other end. Cheney forced nine turnovers, which led to 12 points and a 57 percent shooting performance (16 of 28) to build a 39-29 lead at halftime.

“When we’re passing and making good decisions with the ball, we’re going to have halves like that,” Baldwin said. “That’s the fourth time we’ve scored over 60, so offensively we’re pretty good.”

Rasmussen’s scoring prowess has made offense more of a sure thing for Conway, but it has struggled this season producing stops on the defensive end. On Tuesday night, it was more of the same.

In the first half, Rasmussen was spectacular in scoring 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, but he rarely put a dent in Cheney’s lead because it was scoring just as efficiently on the other end.

“We said all week that if he is going to get his, then we have to make sure nobody else gets theirs,” Baldwin said.

Consider it a job well done, as no one else on Conway scored more than seven points and the other nine players who attempted shots went a combined 8 for 32.

Meanwhile, Cheney’s offense was a model of spacing and sharing the ball. Cameron Hill led the team with 19 points and was followed by Austin Wheelock with 16 and Noah Schomacker, a sophomore who scored 14 points off the bench.

“Everybody knows their role on the team,” Hill said. “We know who needs to shoot it and who needs to pass it.”

While Conway never had a lead after falling behind 15-4, Rasmussen provided an array of highlight-reel finishes on drives, most notably one in the second quarter where he left his feet going under the backboard in search of a passing outlet, only to blindly flip it over his head and into the basket.

It’s those types of plays that CPL coaches know all too well, and they don’t mind if Rasmussen stays their own secret.

“He’s a fantastic offensive player,” Baldwin said. “I really enjoy watching him play. He made some really tough shots out there.”

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CONWAY SPRINGS: Murphy 3, Rasmussen 26, N. Oswald 0, Z. Oswald 3, Leddy 7, Dugan 6, Fisher 0, Winter 3, Shaffer 0, Misak 0, Luckner 2, Sones 0.

CHENEY: Wheelock 16, Grover 0, Hill 19, Amsink 7, Patterson 9, Schomacker 14, Heck 0, Watson 0, Trego 0, Benward 0, Fouquet 0, Tennison 0.