LENEXA — St. James always gives the Ottawa High School boys basketball team trouble. The Thunder played intense and tough brand of defense in Friday’s season opener in Lenexa.
Ottawa battled from a halftime deficit with a big second half to post a 54-39 victory
“That is why you play the game ... you find out your weaknesses,” Ottawa coach Jon McKowen said. “They play a lot like us ... they sit down and play on the defensive end. They get after you.”
The Thunder played physical against Ottawa.
“It got us out of our flow,” McKowen said. “We worked on that in practice. It did not carry over.”
Ottawa finally got into a flow in the middle of the third quarter. Ottawa used a 17-5 run to open a 42-30 lead early in the fourth quarter. Ottawa later increased the lead to 52-34.
Ottawa played tough defense also, limiting the Thunder to two field goals in the second half.
“We did not do a good job of keeping them off the line,” McKowen said about the 12 made free throws in the second half. “It was a great atmosphere. We faced a lot of adversity. We found about our make-up. We have great composure.”
St. James controlled the first half, building a 9-3 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. Ottawa rallied back within 9-8 and took its first lead of the game at 14-13 with 4:23 left in the first half.
St. James led 23-20 at halftime.
Ottawa found some offensive rhythym in the third quarter behind all-stater Semi Ojeleye and Alex Hasty.
Ojeleye finished with 28 points, despite receiving double teams all game. He hit 12 free throws.
Hasty scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half.
Ottawa shot 19-of-45 from the field, while St. James was 8-of-45, including 2-18 in the second half.
The Cyclones had six players score.
The top-ranked Cyclones play three games next week in the Goodland Tournament.
The Ottawa junior varsity opened the season with a 64-49 loss.
St. James (39) — Maskus 7, Engen 4, Wittman 2, Huppe 7, Mayfield 4, D. Mckee 12, McCullough 2, C. McKee 2.
Ottawa (54) — Ojeleye 28, Hasty 14, Shaffer 4, Boeh 3, Markley 2, Smith 3.