Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
West Chester East senior Jose Ramos didn’t take over Friday’s game against Plymouth Whitemarsh.
That was sophomore KJ Cochran, who poured in 25 points in a 67-54 win over the Colonials during the second day of the Pete & Jameer Nelson Play-By-Play Classic at Widener University.
But Cochran said he and his teammates ‘feed off each other’ and at the point guard spot, Ramos is often the table setter.
The lefty point guard tallied 11 points, six assists and two steals, helping get his teammates going — whether that was with an assist or a steal on the defensive end.
“I think with our supporting cast and us two (Ramos and Cochran), we bring something to the table that I don’t think any other team has,” Ramos said. “We just bring this energy and fight and we want every win on our schedule.”
W.C. East's Jose Ramos, right, dribbles against PW's Jaden Colzie. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
West Chester East (8-2) jumped out to a 17-8 first-quarter lead on Friday when junior Ryan Price (11 points) knocked down a trio of triples. Ramos was dishing out dimes in the opening frame, and also added a bucket on a drive through the lane to beat the buzzer.
“Everybody’s looking at me, Kush, Ryan Price, (Jack) Gallagher. He can also take his man too,” Cochran said. “We trust him. If he goes and attacks he’s going to have Ryan in the corner or Kush for the dump off down low. We all feed off each other and it shows out there.”
Senior Qudire Bennett (22 points) helped Plymouth Whitemarsh (7-2) climb back into the game with nine points in the second quarter. After closing the gap to 31-27 at halftime, Bennett scored the first two baskets of the second half to tie the game. It was still tight, 44-41, heading to the fourth.
That’s when the sophomore Cochran got going.
Cochran scored 13 of his points in the fourth. He and Ramos combined for a 10-0 run that expanded the Vikings’ advantage to double digits, 58-46, with four minutes to play.
“Every time I see him doing his thing, that makes everyone else want to support him,” Ramos said of Cochran. “Basically, he’s been scoring for us ever since he’s joined the program. It’s been a lot of success.”
Cochran, a Division I recruit, is already one of the area’s standout talents, but the young star continues to appreciate the wisdom his veteran teammates pass down.
“It’s very important,” Cochran said. “Since I’m young, I could see a shot not fall and be like, ‘Ah,’ put my head down. But they say keep shooting, keep going and I think that’s helping me be a leader too. I’m saying look at Ryan. He just hit two, let him get a third one, trusting our guys. They help me a lot.”
West Chester East's Jack Kushner throws down a dunk on Friday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Ramos and senior Jack Kushner (eight points) are four-year varsity players. With three Ches-Mont League titles, a District 1 title and two state playoff trips under their belts, their words have meaning. There’s winning experience behind them.
“All the seniors, we’re seasoned,” Ramos said. “We’ve been through a lot as a team. We’ve been on varsity since freshman year. We’re just trying to help him out and keep tutoring him.”
Ramos is naturally one of the team’s leaders at the point guard position. When he talks, his teammates listen.
Ramos earned a starting spot late in his sophomore campaign and is now in his second full-time season running the show for the Vikings. The goal this season is to take better care of the ball — something he’s been successful with thus far.
He also feels more mature, not letting himself get rushed by opposing defenses or let others take him mentally off his game. There’s more confidence in his play too, whether that is firing from long range or creating his own shot off the bounce.
“Just knowing the plays and seeing everybody, I feel like I can really do a lot,” Ramos said. “I can pass, score, anything coach asks me to do I can do. I’m a coachable player.”
“He does a lot of communication. If he says, ‘Do this, do that,’ we’re going to listen to him because we’re all on the same page,” Cochran said. “As a leader he’s just a great person and as a point guard too, he’s just great.”
Ramos earned an offer from Cheyney in October and his play has drawn interest from programs like Widener and Immaculata. Schools at the next level value those intangible assets he brings to the table too.
“They just like that I’m a team leader,” Ramos said. “I’m the type of guy where people will follow me. I’ll pick my guys up every single time. … I’m there for them every time.
Ambitions for the Vikings are sky high this season with state gold in the back of their minds. There are plenty of obstacles in the district and beyond in a loaded Class 5A division.
There is, however, plenty special about this Vikings group with star power, experience and a trust in each other that starts with their senior leaders.
“Picking each other up,” Cochran said. “That’s what a good team does. We pick each other up.”
“As a team right now, we want to win a state championship,” Ramos said. “I feel like we have the supporting cast to do it. It’s going to be really hard. I’m not looking over any team, but we’re on the right track for sure.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh: 8 | 19 | 14 | 13 || 54
W.C. East: 17 | 14 | 13 | 23 || 67
Plymouth Whitemarsh: Qudire Bennett 22, Chase Coleman 18, Jaden Colzie 7, Jahseir Sayles 5, Lincoln Sharpe 2.
W.C. East: KJ Cochran 25, Jose Ramos 11, Ryan Price 11, Jack Kushner 8, Jack Gallagher 5, Stanley Porter 4, Josh Sherlock 3.