The holiday break came at a good time for the Ottawa High School boys basketball team. The Cyclones enter the long break on a two-game winning streak.
The Cyclones bested Paola, 47-33, Friday night in Ottawa on the strength of a big second half. Ottawa takes a 2-2 mark into the break.
Ottawa has played to its record, well at times and other times not. Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said the staff will take the next few days to reflect and analyze where they are.
“We have so many things we have to get better at,” McCullough said. “I love this team. They have great skills and talent. We have to get better.”
Ottawa opened the season with losses to top-ranked Piper and Highland Park and then defeated Shawnee Heights and Paola.
“After we lost to Highland Park, our goals changed,” McCullough said. “We wanted to go into Christmas break with no more than two losses. It is nice we go in on a two-game winning streak. We have to hit it hard. January and February is going to be brutal.”
McCullough said during the break, the alumni return and scrimmage the Cyclones.
“We will get some guys in here and make us tougher,” he said. “We will play against somebody different that will push us, punch us and knock us around and make us more physical. We will work and we will get this thing righted.”
McCullough hopes to get roles established early in January when play resumes.
“The big thing is for them to accept those roles,” he said. “You have to decide if you are playing this game for the team, accomplish the goals our team has set, or are you playing this game for yourself. We will get into our league schedule. We will know what to expect. We have to learn to control and command the game, run our offense and make the other team adjust to us. We did that against Shawnee Heights.”
Ottawa came out flat against Paola, falling behind 11-4 after the first quarter.
“They punched us in the mouth and we did not respond to it,” McCullough said. “We were not hungry when we tipped the ball off. You can throw records, abilities and skills out the window (when playing Paola). It is going to be a dogfight. You know with a Dave Cash-coached team, they are going to come to play hard.”
Ottawa closed within 17-16 at halftime and dominated the second half.
“We played a really good zone,” McCullough said. “We attacked the ball. We knocked down some shots. We needed to see the ball go through the net from distance.”
Ottawa plays Jan. 8 at home against Metro Academy.