PAOLA — Ottawa High School opponents have tried different things to keep up with the Cyclones. Some of tried to be physical, others played keep away to slow the pace.
Paola came up with another strategy. The Panthers tried to keep pace on the offensive end.
Paola hit eight treys, but it still was not enough Tuesday in Paola.
The top-ranked Cyclones hit seven treys and pushed the tempo offensively to forge an 81-58 victory.
“We shared the ball very well,” Ottawa coach Jon McKowen said. “That is what we were looking for. We worked hard on that in practice. It carried over.
“We got really good shots. We did not shoot it well from the three-point line. We missed a lot of passes that would be easy buckets.”
No matter those type of miscues, Ottawa’s firepower was too much.
“It was definitely what we were looking for,” Ottawa senior Alex Hasty said. “We have been working on team things.”
Senior forward Semi Ojeleye hardly missed a shot. He hit 17 of 21 field goals and was 13 of 14 from the free-throw line en route to 53 points.
Ojeleye has four career 50-point games with two coming against Paola. Earlier this season, he tossed in 56 points in three quarters against Paola.
“When the ball is in Semi’s hands, he was getting great shots or getting teammates great shots,” McKowen said. “Offensively we are really, really good when we do that as a team.
“When you can score 53 and be more impressed with the way he passed the ball, that is a good balance.”
Ojeleye has 2,517 career points. He needs 38 points to break the all-time state scoring record of 2,554 set by Brewster’s Josh Reid.
Paola came out juiced in front of a big crowd on senior night. The Panthers hit three treys to take a 9-7 lead
“Their crowd got rocking,” McKowen said. “I was happy our kids did not try to do too much in that situation. That would have been an easy situation to try to takeover the game early.”
Ottawa answered with a 14-0 run for a 21-9 lead late in the first quarter. Ottawa also had a 10-2 run in the second quarter. Ottawa led 41-25 at halftime.
“I have not felt we have had many of those spurts in the last month,” McKowen said. “When you go ‘whoa’ that is a good basketball team. At halftime, we said that is one of those runs where things were clicking. There were no play calls or sets being run.
“For the team to adjust on their own makes for a good tournament basketball team.”
Paola was working the ball inside to outside and side-to-side for open outside looks.
“We worked really hard on taking away the inside first,” McKowen said. “The rotations were there, but they were late. That allows some open shots.
“We have to shore up. That is an easy fix. [The players] were holding themselves accountable. They hit some contested ones.
“It was one of those nights where you had to score to win the game. We were able to do it.”
Hasty said, “the best we can do is get a hand in their face. Sometimes teams get hot.
“The best part is we know when they are making a lot of shots, we can still win the game.”
McKowen said Ottawa kept Paola from making a run.
“What I was happy with — they were making shots — but it was not the same kid,” he said.
“That is a big part of not letting teams go on big runs.”
The coach said the Cyclones are close to the level of play he wants.
Ottawa (17-0) plays Friday at Baldwin.
Paola (58) — Wilson 5, O’Brien 3, Gochenour 14, Criddle 6, Long 10, Jorgensen 5, McDow 8, Henn 5, Froeschle 2.
Ottawa (81) — Ojeleye 53, Hasty 6, Peters 5, Shaffer 2, Natt 11, Markley 2, A. Blaue 2.