LOUISBURG — For the second game, the Cyclone defense kept its opponent under 40 points.

The strong defensive effort in the second half of Tuesday’s game at Louisburg opened up the offense for players such as seniors Krys Johnson and Devion Bethea, and sophomore Kobe Johnson in the 55-39 win for the Ottawa High School boys basketball team.

Ottawa and Louisburg went back-and-forth in the first half, with Bethea sinking a late three to put the Cyclones up 24-22. The message at halftime was simple, Cliff McCullough, OHS head boys basketball coach, said — play better defense.

“We gave them everything they wanted offensively,” McCullough said. “We didn’t defend the baseline, we let them drive the hole whenever they wanted, we didn’t have people in gaps, we didn’t close out well and we gave up three pointers. So, their challenge was to play better defense and do the things that they are supposed to do. And that is exactly how I worded it to them because I asked them, ‘Why are we not way ahead in this game? What is wrong with your defense?’ [They said,] ‘Well we don’t have people in gaps, we aren’t doing this and we aren’t doing that.’ And I said, ‘So you’re telling me you aren’t doing what you are supposed to do?’ Bottom line, that is it. Second half, we did a much better job of that.”

Ottawa scored the first 11 points of the second half, while the Wildcats put up just five points total in the third quarter. Louisburg’s 39 points matches the Cyclone’s previous opponent’s offensive output when De Soto scored 39 Friday.

“Our goal is to hold opponents in the 40s, and twice they’ve held them in the 30s,” McCullough said. “We could be really good when we figure this defense out because, personally, I don’t think we’re playing great defense yet. I think we can get better, and if they can buy into that, we are going to be a really good basketball team.”

Krys Johnson led all scorers with 20 points in what McCullough called a “break-out game” for the senior forward. Kobe Johnson and Bethea followed with 13 points each.

“Devion, if he can hit shots like that, it is going to make it so much better,” McCullough said. “I thought Krys may have had a breakout game, probably his best game in high school to this point. He played really good, he knocked down shots, he hit perimeter shots, he was inside and he made great passes in the high-low. We kind of see parts of this coming together, and now we go into Christmas break and we just really start fine-tuning everything we’ve done to this point.”

Ottawa (4-1) returns to action 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at home against Paola on Winter Royalty night.

Ottawa (55) — Krys Johnson 20, Kobe Johnson 13, Bethea 13, Shaffer 4, Brown 2, Bones 2, Matney 1.

Louisburg (39) — Minster 12, Gage 7, Ribordy 7, DeShazer 5, Seivert 3, Vogl 3, Doles 2.