The Cyclones found themselves in dire straits at halftime of Friday’s sub-state semifinal against Baldwin in Ottawa. Baldwin led 25-13 and was in control of the game.
Ottawa turned things around and took the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs made a late push to end the Cyclones season. Ottawa fell 47-43.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “We played a great second half.”
Baldwin scored the first nine points of the game.
McCullough said Baldwin came out full of intensity and Ottawa backed off.
“They came out swinging and we did not want any part of that,” he said. “We made a little run a the end of the first half. It was good. We had hope. It was two total different halves. Our rebounding was terrible in the first half. All we worked on [in practice] was rebounding. They are so big and strong inside.”
Ottawa could not buy a basket in the first half. The Cyclones missed from everywhere and was 4-of-23 from the field.
But Ottawa had a huge third quarter, rallying within 29-27. Corie Fischer’s trey with 6:20 left in the game gave Ottawa its first lead at 30-29.
“Regardless we got back and took the lead, gave it up, took it back and gave it up,” McCullough said. “I am so proud of the girls, they kept fighting. That is the characteristic of this team. Way back in mid-January we were in a dark place with our team and we kept believing. We started to shine at the end.”
Ottawa’s last lead was at 35-34 with 2:44 remaining. Free throws hurt Ottawa, missing five charities in the fourth quarter. Baldwin was 12-of-14 from the line.
“They put themselves in position to win the game,” McCullough said. “When you get into tournament play, you have to hit free throws. We stopped attacking except for the last 40 seconds of the game.
They kept attacking and we kept fouling. We were getting on the line and not making anything. Once you get the lead, you have to hang on to it. We didn’t.”
Senior Tyra Lyday paced the Cyclones (10-11) with 11 points. Cydney Lewis netted 10.
McCullough was appreciative of the seniors for their impact on the basketball program.
“They are tremendously athletic class of girls,” he said. “One I have had a great time coaching. Watching them grow up. Without good senior leadership, we don’t make a run like this. We fold back in mid-January. They left a legacy.”
The seniors were Alexis Roecker, Lyday, Elsie Bones, Lewis, Paige Weidner and Kylie Fischer.
Baldwin (47) — Jones 24, Kehl 7, Katzer 2, Ogle 5, Smith 4, Jorgensen 1, Cope 2, Dighans 2.
Ottawa (43) — Lyday 11, K. Fischer 9, C. Fischer 8, Lewis 10, Weidner 3, Moore 2.