It appeared Ottawa was about to run the Wildcats out of Ottawa Friday night in the Cyclone gym. Ottawa got up 43-28 late in the third quarter, but the Wildcats rallied.
De Soto came within a point late, but Ottawa righted the ship for a 59-53 victory.
“They have confidence that no matter who we have on the floor or how good the team is they can play with us,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “They did.”
Dalton Verhulst and Quinton Verhulst engineered the comeback. The brothers combined for 47 of the 53 points.
“Those brothers are such good shooters,” McCullough said. You are not going to hold them down the whole game. Dalton hit a couple of shots and got on a roll.”
Dalton scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half. Quinton had 27 points.
“We have not figured out defense yet,” McCullough said.
“We did not shoot the ball well tonight,” McCullough said. “It was good to see that we can make plays when we are not shooting. They find ways. They are so tough. You don’t know how they will react with their lack of experience.
“We had enough people hit shots at the right moment. Connor’s three was huge. Cole shot well and kept us in it. We spread it out a little bit. When you can do that, we will be in games.”
De Soto was held to a three in the final 3:40 of the game.
“You have to do it defensively,” McCullough said. “Jake pulled down a huge rebound. That is was it takes. One rebound here and one rebound there.
“You have to be mentally tough. They will be challenged here on out. They are showing incredible toughness. They are a gritty group.”
De Soto (53) — Q. Verhulst 27, D. Verhulst 20, Stenzel 2, Johnson 2, Williams 2.
Ottawa (59) — McCullough 10, Bunce 14, D. Jung 2, Blaue 9, Smith 14, Matney 3, C. Stepp 5, Rich 2, Silvey 2.