De Soto has been tough on the Ottawa High School boys basketball team. The Wildcats have handed Ottawa losses the past few seasons and the wins have been hard.
The top-ranked Cyclones wanted to make a statement Tuesday in Ottawa. The Cyclones, who defeated the Wildcats by five earlier this season, rode a big second half to a 76-51 win.
McDonald’s All-American Semi Ojeleye, who fired in 39 points, said the Wildcats had Ottawa’s attention.
“It is a big game,” he said. “There is a possibility of seeing them again in sub-state. We had that mindset going in to take care of business.”
De Soto sliced a 14-point deficit to eight (30-22) at halftime.
“We gave them momentum and a little bit of confidence,” Ojeleye said. “We don’t anybody thinking they can play with us at sub-state.”
Ottawa came out humming in the third quarter. Ottawa doubled its score with 31 points in the quarter to open a 61-39 lead.
“Defensively, we changed our mindset,” Ojeleye said. “We were being more aggressive. We moved the ball around well. We did some good things on the offensive end.”
Ottawa coach Jon McKowen said the game’s tempo was to the Cyclones’ liking in the second half.
“We pushed tempo,” he said. “Our ball pressure turned up the tempo in the third quarter. That is the speed we wanted the game to go. They wanted to limit our possessions and shorten the game.
“Coming out of half, we were not happy with our half-court offense. It looked like we had not played in a week. We got really good movement in the third quarter.”
Ottawa scored in a variety of ways. In an 18-4 run, the Cyclones scored off steals, transition, offensive rebounding and from long range.
McKowen said the Cyclones will be a tough matchup for anybody when they move the ball around and push it up the floor.
Ottawa’s defensive game plan was to take away the Wildcats’ inside attack. The Cyclones did that, but De Soto hit six treys in the first half.
“You can’t give them both,” McKowen said. “We wanted to limit their inside game. They are physical and talented kids. They can score fast too.”
Ottawa has started second halves slow this season, but De Soto’s run before halftime got the Cyclones’ attention.
“In past games, we come out in the second half thinking the game is over,” Ojeleye said. “We let [teams] back in. We had to keep pushing.”
Ottawa’s 1-3-1 press caused De Soto fits. Ojeleye said the Cyclones wanted to get in the passing lanes and go for steals.
“We worked on anticipating off the ball stuff and getting steals off long passes,” McKowen said.
Ottawa built a 30-point lead with three minutes remaining in the game.
Alex Hasty finished with 13 points. Dallas Natt had 12.
Ottawa (15-0) plays Friday at Louisburg.
De Soto (51) — Lueth 6, Q. Verhulst 2, Stallbaumer 6, Carroll 3, Turner 9, D. Verhulst 17, Johnson 3, Cardiff 2.
Ottawa (76) — Ojeleye 39, Hasty 13, Peters 6, Shaffer 4, Natt 12, Boeh 2.