BASEHOR — After passing its biggest test, the Ottawa High School boys basketball team is rewarded with facing the state’s top 6A team. The team is set to play against Washburn Rural (9-0) in the semifinals of the Bobcat Invitational hosted at Basehor-Linwood High School. Tip off is set for 4:30 p.m. today after the tournament’s schedule was updated due to incoming weather.
Ottawa beat Raytown South 66-61 Tuesday in the opening round — a game that the Cyclones came back from 16 points down to pull out the win.
“You get to the winners’ bracket side and there are four teams that just can flat play,” Cliff McCullough, OHS head boys basketball coach, said of the tournament. “You’re going to have 4A teams, 5A teams and 6A teams. You played your butts off, you probably played one of the best games of the season so far and congratulations you get the No. 1 team in 6A. But you know what, we are on the winners’ bracket side and win or lose we are going to come and battle.”
Battle is exactly what OHS did against Raytown South. Following a first half where the Cardinals outperformed Ottawa physically, the Cyclones responded with arguably the best second half of basketball they have played this season.
Kobe Johson hit a left-side three with 2:01 to play that cut what was a 54-36 lead down to one point (59-58). Johnson was then fouled following a Raytown miss by Mark Cann and hit both shots on a one-and-one to give the Cyclones the lead. Raytown’s Armani Williams missed a three at the top of the key on the team’s ensuing possession and Ottawa’s Jayson Brown pulled down the rebound. Raytown was forced to foul with 28 seconds left, sending senior Isaac Bones to the line where he hit both shots on a one-and-one to extend the lead 62-59. Kobe Campbell cut the lead back to one with a basket with 14 seconds left to make it 62-61.
Drama ensued when Cade Gollier was fouled by Raytown’s Desmond McKinney on the inbounds and Cardinal coach Aaron Ihm was called for a technical foul. Cade Gollier missed the front end of the one-and-one for the foul and Bones knocked down both techical foul free throws to make it 64-61 and the ball in Ottawa’s possession. Gollier redeemed himself by hitting a pair of free throws after being fouled with nine seconds left to make it 66-61. Campbell missed a shot as time winded down and the Cyclones iced the rally.
“This is probably going to show us that, no matter how much we are down by, we can always come back,” Johnson, who scored 26 points for OHS, said. “We can use this as a rallying tool heading into the postseason and for the rest of the season.”
After a half of being pushed around, McCullough noted he challenged his team to not be itimidated. Limiting the Cardinal’s second-chance points in the second half was key in what McCullough said was his team’s biggest win of the season thus far.
“These kids showed me a little something,” he sadi. “I don’t think we played a complete game. I thought we played a really, really good second half. We had some kids step up. For sure, this is the biggest win of our season to be able to go up against a team like that, a big school coming off a state runner-up last year, to be able to pull a win out the way we did — we just grinded it out. I think that says a lot about the character of our team because, as a coach, I was questioning our character and how we approached the game. If we can channel what we had in the second half from here on out, that would be awful nice. It is a huge win.”
Ottawa (66) - Johnson 26, McCullough 9, Bones 9, Gollier 8, Brown 6, Moore 4, Quillen 2, Michel 2.
Raytown South (61) - Cann 18, Campbell 13, McKinney 10, Williams 9, Carter 8, Harrison 3.