TOPEKA — The early-season knocks are now turning into good learning lessons for the Ottawa High School girls basketball team.
The Cyclones passed a big test Thursday in a rescheduled game against Topeka West. Ottawa battled from behind for most of the game, but made big plays in the closing minutes to steal the game away from the Chargers, 43-38.
Ottawa’s defense forced either misses from the outside or came up with steals in the final moments. Ottawa hit enough free throws to build a small lead.
“We continue to grow,” Ottawa coach Matt Schurman said. “We struggled with physicality in this game. They are a strong team. We switched up a couple of things and came up big. We hit some free throws late. We got out with a win in Topeka, which is huge. The talent in Topeka is ridiculous.”
Ottawa had lost previous games to Shawnee Heights and Highland Park before the holidays.
Ottawa changed looks defensively, which caused the Chargers some problems.
“We were able to press a little bit,” Schurman said. “They were able to come out and get some really good steals. They put themselves in position to win it.”
The contest was tight throughout. The game was tied several times and had many lead changes.
“We are getting mentally tough,” Schurman said. “They keep fighting. This group is a fun group to coach. They did what they had to do to get the win.
"They were all on floor (after loose balls). They are doing the little things that win basketball games.”
Ottawa has won three of its past four games with the lone loss coming Tuesday against state-ranked Baldwin. The Cyclones started the season 0-3.
Schurman said the players are soaking up as much coaching as possible.
“We have some time with this group,” he said. “Our seniors are seeing success. Hopefully, we can get on a roll.”
Ottawa (3-4) had its Friday game at home against Topeka High postponed because of the ice storm that hit Kansas on Friday. A makeup date will be determined.
Ottawa’s rescheduled game with Tonganoxie will be Feb. 24 in Ottawa.
The Cyclones play three games next week in the Basehor-Linwood Tournament. The girls portion of the tourney opens on Tuesday.