Ottawa got one shot and made it pay off. The Cyclones knocked off No. 2 ranked Baldwin, 51-44, Tuesday on the Bulldogs’ home floor.
“It was a big win,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said.
The coach said this victory will go a long way in giving Ottawa confidence it can come into Baldwin and be successful come March.
“We are fortunate we get to play [here],” McCullough said. “Hayden and Wamego do not.”
It was an intense battle between two ranked teams. Ottawa is ranked sixth in this week’s KBCA poll.
McCullough said this rivalry is alive and is always going to be a battle.
“You are always going to get each other’s best shot,” McCullough said. “Baldwin always plays tough defense.”
McCullough said those three possessions decided the game. Ottawa was coming off a 65-64 loss to Paola when the Cyclones defense was porous.
“We took a step in the right direction,” McCullough said. “We got two or three stops when we needed to.”
Ottawa was attempting to drain the clock when Baldwin scored five straight points to pull within 44-41 with 1:50 left. Ottawa got a bucket from Jake Matney and hit five straight free throws to build a 51-41 lead with five seconds left.
“We have to keep believing and keep working,” McCullough said.
The key to slowing down the Bulldogs was controlling point guard Cornell Brown, who finished with 13 points. Ottawa kept him from driving the lane.
“Cornell is so fast,” McCullough said. “It was huge to keep Cornell out of the paint.”
Cole Bunce paced Ottawa (5-1) with 11 points. Tyler Smith had 10.
Baldwin (44) — Fursman 12, Burton 11, Berg 5, Brown 13, Twombly 3.
Ottawa (51) — McCullough 9, Bunce 11, D. Jung 4, Blaue 4, Smith 10, T. Jung 5, Matney 2, C. Stepp 6.