The nine Ottawa High School seniors have been through a lot. They understand how to play and win postseason basketball games.
Those players were not fazed by the winter storm bearing down on the Ottawa area Monday afternoon. It caused the game to go from a 7 p.m. start to a 4:30 p.m. tip to finally a 4 p.m. beginning in Ottawa.
The Cyclones came out ready with fresh legs and minds. Osawatomie bore the brunt of Ottawa’s intensity. Ottawa rolled to a 90-38 victory over the Trojans in a first-round sub-state game. It was Ottawa’s 24th straight postseason win on its home floor.
Ottawa (20-0) advances to Thursday’s semifinal in Ottawa against the winner of Wednesday’s Eudora-Paola game. The first semifinal at 6 p.m. in Ottawa will pit upset winner Louisburg against De Soto.
The Cyclones started fast with 27 points in the first quarter. Many of those came off steals and easy transition hoops.
“We came out with a chip on our shoulder,” senior Dallas Natt, who had 13 points, said. “We worked on the defensive side.”
Natt said the team was set to play no matter the time of the game.
“Everyone was mentally ready and focused,” he said. “We were going to come in and play our game. We needed to get the job done.
“Every play, we are going full out. We don’t want to be that team that gets upset. It can happen to anybody.”
Ottawa coach Jon McKowen said the Cyclones have taken teams’ best performances this season, which has prepared them for the postseason.
“Everybody is playing with desperation,” McKowen said. “We have taken a lot of punches this year. Tournament time does not feel different.”
Ottawa has come out of breaks playing on all cylinders this season.
“Everyone of them, we came back and played really well,” McKowen said. “It is a matter of the kids focusing during practice and making sure there is not a big let up.
“That is not easy. These unusual things have not bothered us all year. Us having nine seniors, they know what it is about.”
The defense was all over the Trojans all game long. Ottawa pushed the ball at every opportunity.
“We got a lot of easy baskets,” McKowen said. “It was the stops on the defensive end. When our defense is like that, we can do something special.”
Ottawa had several big runs. Ottawa opened the game with a 16-2 spurt. Ottawa then closed the first quarter with an 11-0 run to open a 27-5 lead.
The Cyclones had a 17-0 run in the second quarter.
The final hammer was a doozy. Ottawa closed the third quarter on a 21-2 spurt to gain an 80-27 lead. Ottawa scored 30 points in the third quarter.
“Don’t change anything,” Natt said about the attitude for the second half. “Play like it is 0-0.”
Ottawa has offensive weapons with Alex Hasty tossing in with 15. Semi Ojeleye broke out of his scoring slump with a 42-point effort.
“When we make shots and get the game going up and down, we can score 30 a bunch in quarters,” McKowen said. “We have five guys who can score. Everyone who brought the ball up the floor shared it great. That is the reason we were able to score so many.”
The players and coaches know beating either Paola or Eudora for a third time will not be easy. Ottawa struggled last year in the semifinals against Spring Hill.
“It takes a lot of preparation on our kids part,” McKowen said.
Osawatomie (38) — Soucie 8, Rayl 14, Chisam 11, England 5.
Ottawa (90) — Ojeleye 42, Hasty 15, Peters 6, Shaffer 2, Natt 13, Boeh 2, A. Blaue 1, Graf 7, Q. Blaue 2.