Postseason experience is something teams either have or don’t. The Ottawa High School girls basketball players have a lot of postseason experience in basketball and other sports.
The Cyclones are not intimidated by big games. Ottawa used that experience and played one of its best games of the season Wednesday in a 52-42 win over De Soto in the first round of sub-state in Ottawa.
The Cyclones (10-10) advanced to Friday’s semifinals against Baldwin, which topped Eudora, 41-27. The other semifinal has Spring Hill, which beat Osawatomie, 46-27, playing Paola, 75-68 winners over Louisburg. Game times will be released later.
Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough waited most of the season for a performance like he saw.
“That is how I thought this team could play,” he said. “That was as good as we could have executed. They have that postseason experience. And how to win. That came through. We are a tough team. We have a lot of confidence right now.”
Ottawa lost to De Soto both times during the regular season. The Cyclones felt they could have won both.
“We could not get over that hump,” McCullough said. “The second time we put them on the line 28 times. We had the confidence we could beat this team.
“It is tough when you beat a team two times to beat them a third time. We have ran into that the past four or five years. I totally understand how hard it is.”
Ottawa’s defense was in the face of De Soto’s main scorers. The Cyclones limited De Soto to 12 of 47 shooting.
“We played really good defense,” McCullough said. “The other key was we dominated the boards, especially the offensive glass in the first half.
“We were getting putbacks. It was a backbreaker for them.”
Sophomore Corie Fischer found her shooting stroke, but more importantly became a floor leader. She finished with a game-high 18 points.
“She grew up so much tonight,” McCullough said. “She played with passion and heart. Her team followed her. Corie hit some huge threes.”
Fischer hit a trey at the buzzer to give Ottawa a 22-11 halftime lead.
De Soto came out aggressive in the third quarter. The Wildcats cut the deficit to 35-30 at the end of the third quarter.
“We got a lead and kept it,” McCullough said. “They cut it to five. We did not panic. We stayed under control. We got some huge shots.”
Senior Alexis Roecker scored eight of her 15 points in the third quarter and iced the game with two free throws with 44 seconds left.
Ottawa will try to turn the same trick against Baldwin as the Bulldogs topped the Cyclones twice this season.
“This game against Baldwin will be crazy. We run the same offense. We will know where everybody is cutting and going. It is going to come down to who rebounds. That is where they beat us because they have those big post players.
“For us to have been there three times, there should be no pressure on these girls.
“For the rest of the tournament, we are the underdogs. We are wearing the red jerseys.”
De Soto (42) — De Soto 18, Saucerman 2, Williams 11, Deghand 2, Gehrt 9.
Ottawa (52) — Lyday 7, Roecker 15, K. Fischer 2, C. Fischer 18, Lewis 2, Weidner 7, Moore 2.