The Ottawa High School boys basketball team was determined to not let history repeat itself. The Cyclones fell to Chanute 50-36 in last year’s first-round sub-state contest, which was played in Ottawa.
The Cyclones’ rematch with Chanute came Wednesday in Ottawa. The squad was coming off a 51-50 loss to Spring Hill Friday where the Cyclones frittered away a double-digit lead in the final two minutes.
All those memories were fresh in the players and coaches minds.
“The bulk of these guys played in that game last year,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “We talked about that this week and reminded them what happened. Chanute was a really good team last year. Nobody comes into our house and scores 25 in the fourth quarter to win a basketball game.”
Ottawa turned the tables on Chanute. The Cyclones dominated the Comets in every facet of the game Wednesday, 66-36, to advance to Saturday’s sub-state championship game. Ottawa (15-6) plays 6 p.m. at home against Independence, which topped Fort Scott in the first round.
The Cyclones jumped on top 15-5 at the end of the first quarter and extended the lead to 20 at 36-16 at halftime.
“In the first half, we were awfully good,” McCullough said. “Our defense was good. We were talking. We were executing the game plan. Sometimes we don’t always do that. If we can play defense like that, we will do some things we want to. We knew their players inside and out. We knew their tendencies. They could not get anything they wanted to do.”
On offense, Ottawa hurt the Comets with timely outside shooting and by cutting to the basket for easy scores.
“It is the fifth or sixth game we have seen zone,” McCullough said. “We preach all the time to go to the open spot. How many times did we sneak back underneath the defense and get easy lay-up buckets? If we get the ball to one side, we have Noah [McCullough] and Alex [Quillen] cutting back door for layups. We shared the ball and we saw the court. We made the right pass and it was on time. We don’t always do that. It was a great game for us. We executed in all facets. That is a great sign to see starting postseason. It is a great sign they are ready to play.”
Ottawa did not let up in the second half. Ottawa led 49-25 at the end of third quarter and built a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter, which allowed for a running clock.
McCullough said preparation for the game was tremendous.
“We addressed Sunday in film what happened Friday,” he said. “I showed them the last two minutes of that game where we were up 10 and lost it. I am showing you how you can get an 18-, 20-point lead and it goes away, unless you are going to do something about it. Don’t let this happen because from now on, you are done. They are not ready to be done.
“We have the experience, senior leaders and the will to win the game,” McCullough said. “That is what it takes in the postseason.”