The Ottawa High School girls basketball team is poised to turn the next corner. The Cyclones gave state-ranked Baldwin a battle Tuesday before falling 47-31 in Ottawa.
Baldwin last year beat Ottawa by more than 30 points twice.
“We are at a point where we are competing with those teams,” Ottawa first-year coach Matt Schurman said. “The is the Frontier League is tough. Anytime you are in the game late with Baldwin, I will take that. We are close of stealing one of these wins from an elite Frontier League teams. We were not able to get it done.”
Ottawa remained on the heels of Baldwin, cutting a double-digit deficit to eight in the fourth quarter.
“We are getting tougher-minded,” Schurman said. “Our players are feeling stronger in what they are trying to get done. This team is going to be dangerous. We don’t know quite when it is going to happen. We are really surprising teams this year.”
Opponents have pressured Ottawa all season. Baldwin is known for its all-out pressure defense. Ottawa showed a lot of improvement.
“A lot goes back to our guards handling the pressure a little better,” Schurman said. “Our girls knew they would try to do this. Turnovers are not sticking out to me. We did a good job of minimizing those against team that plays defense. Kristen Evans did a phenomenal job at point. She was a difference-maker. There were times she was able to beat the press all the way down.”
The Ottawa offense looked sharper against the Baldwin defense.
“Our guards is doing a really good job of attacking off the pick-and-rolls,” Schurman said. “Our bigs are setting good screens. Our offense is running smoother because we are doing the small things. The shots did not fall for us. It had a lot to do with Baldwin’s pressure.”
Schurman said the bench continues to grow and was needed because of foul trouble and injuries.
“They had to play more minutes,” he said. “We had people playing out of position. We were in foul trouble early. Ashley Evans played every position but point guard. She is usually a two or a three. That is the adaptability of what our seniors bring to us.”
Schurman said Evans and fellow senior Brittny Hornbuckle has been the anchor for this young squad.
“Our senior leadership sets the tone every day,” he said. “Any time you have that youth it is the role models setting the tone.”Freshman Brooklyn Hadl came off the bench to lead Ottawa with 11 points. Kirsten Evans finished with 10.
Ottawa (2-4) plays Thursday at Topeka West and on Friday at home against Topeka High. Ottawa will play another three-game week next week in the Basehor-Linwood Tournament.
Baldwin (47) — Boyle 14, Burnett 11, Harvey 9, Russell 5, Smith 5, Fursman 2, Neufeld 1.
Ottawa (31) — Hadl 11, K. Evans 10, Curtis 3, Spigle 3, Titus 2, McGrath 2.