PAOLA – For the second straight year, Ottawa’s dreams of a state berth ended in heartbreak fashion.
A double overtime thriller ended Friday with a 47-42 Paola win in the 2-3 seed matchup at 4A sub-state hosted at Paola High School.
With 47.4 seconds left in the second overtime period and the Cyclones down 43-40, Cade Gollier, sophomore, missed a three-pointer at the top of the key. The rebound ended in a jump ball with Ottawa controlling possession. On the ensuing offensive possession, however, the Cyclones turned the ball over before getting a shot off. Kobe Johnson, sophomore, was forced to foul Paola’s Kale Clark, senior, with 22 seconds left. He hit both free throws, and Ottawa did not hit another shot until a basket at the buzzer by Dylan Matney, senior.
For seniors Krys Johnson, Kaleb Shaffer, Devion Bethea and Matney, it was the final prep career game, something that is never easy to accept, Cliff McCullough, Ottawa High School boys basketball coach, said.
“It’s tough to just see the look on their faces,” McCullough said. “That’s what always gets me. I told them after 21 years of coaching it gets more difficult. It never gets easier because somebody’s career ended. I thanked them, and I thought they played their butts off. They left it all out on the court. We did everything we could do, we just can’t get over the hump right now. Turnovers killed us again.”
In a high-intensity game where neither team led by double digits, Ottawa had its fair share of chanced. With 1.5 seconds left in regulation, a full-court inbounds pass by Shaffer went out of bounds off the fingertips of Krys Johnson. The Cyclones then held the ball for more than two minutes to get the last shot in the first overtime. Krys Johson put up a left corner three that narrowly missed. Neither team scored in the first overtime.
Now, the future turns to a large number of talent young players who have much to learn, McCullough noted.
“I told the young kids to try to understand what [the seniors] are feeling right now, and don’t let it happen again because Ottawa High tradition doesn’t end [Friday] in basketball, and it won’t anymore,” he said. “We have so many young kids right now who are good basketball players. What they have to understand is the emotion that this game is played with – by players, by coaches, by fans, by everybody. They have to buy in to what Ottawa High School basketball is all about. Kids love wearing that jersey, I get that, but it is more than that. It is winning basketball games.”
Paola (47) – Clark 20, Smith 9, Golubski 8, Richmond 4, Wilkes 4, Penn 1.
Ottawa (42) – Kobe Johnson 16, Krys Johnson 8, Michel 6, Shaffer 4, Bethea 4, Gollier 2, Matney 2.