The Ottawa High School boys basketball program has been regarded in a good light by others for quite awhile. Ottawa has qualified for several state tournaments in the past 25 years and been ranked in the state for many years.
One of the ultimate compliments is being asked to play in special events such as the 810 Varsity Classic. Ottawa was scheduled to play Summit Christian at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, but the game was postponed because of the winter storm.
“Any time we are asked to go and participate in something like this, it does mean something,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “It is all about the program. It is because the program has done what it has done in the past, we get asked to do things like that. It is awesome.”
Ottawa has played in these type of events through the years, including last season in the 810 Varsity Classic.
“It is great to go up there,” McCullough said. “It is eight games, Kansas vs. Missouri. It is a really cool atmosphere. They do a couple of different dates now. It is an honor for our program to play in these things. To get asked, you know your program is well respected. Often, Ottawa got overlooked from the metro area. For 810 Varsity to recognize us, it is pretty special.”
To fit the game in, Ottawa had to play three games in four days. McCullough said this is good training ground for state and the mid-season tournament when Ottawa may have to play in back-to-back games.
“These guys can handle it,” he said.
Ottawa is familiar with Summit Christian, a small private school located in Lee’s Summitt, Mo. McCullough said Ottawa played them during the summer. His son, Isaac, plays with a point guard at MidAmerica Nazarene, from Summit Christian.
“It will be a fun day,” McCullough said. “It will be interesting. We don’t play them in the regular season at all. We want to win.”
Ottawa has found its winning ways after an 0-2 start. Ottawa headed into Friday’s game against Tonganoxie on a four-game winning streak. Ottawa opened the 2020 portion of the schedule with a tough 62-60 win Wednesday over Metro Academy.
McCullough saw his team play inconsistently and nearly gave the game away after building a 10-point lead.
“Not sure we deserved it, but we got it,” he said. “We gave them every chance. It was ugly. What bothers me,h we should not be giving games away with six seniors on our team. That really concerns me.
“We knew they were good. They have kids that can shoot. They have good size. They beat Spring Hill [Tuesday]. They played Olathe South really tough. It was a good test for us coming out of the break.”