OHS girls' press turns tide

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald
The Ottawa press completely befuddled Paola in the second half Friday in Paola. The Cyclones turned the turnovers into easy baskets en route to a 45-30 win.

The Ottawa High School girls basketball team’s biggest weakness the past few seasons has been handling the press.

The Cyclones have shown growth in a lot of areas under second-year coach Matt Schuman and the experienced players.

Ottawa turned the tables by unleashing its own press Friday against Paola. It completely took the Panthers out of their game, especially in the second half.

The Cyclones, who were behind 20-19 at halftime, dominated the second half with the press and posted a 45-30 road win.

“We have been working on it,” Schurman said of the press. “Our two guards put pressure on some younger players. Kirstin (Evans) and Summer (Spigle) did a great job upfront on our press. Kirsten and Summer were amazing. They shut down their offense in the second half. Lauren Curtis got a lot of late steals.”

Creating turnovers off the press jump started the offense.

“At times, we struggle offensively,” Schurman said. “Getting some easy buckets was huge. Sometimes, we push it hard and take some early shots. We have some good free-throw shooters, but we can’t get there shooting jumpers.”

Success has been in little chunks the past few years. Winning streaks have not been in the vocabulary.

The Cyclones ended the pre-holiday schedule with wins over Santa Fe Trail (42-33) and Paola on back-to-back days.

“Two in a row just changes where we are at,” Schurman said. “Our players needed to feel some success to get to where we want to be. Our team work continues to grow every game.”

The Cyclones owned the second half, limiting Paola to 10 points and found an extra gear offensively.

“That second half was everything I was looking for,” Schurman said. ‘It was everything we had on our check list. We overcame adversity.

“We were able to do the small things (to win). We were unselfish.”

It was the first road league win for these players and the coaching staff.

“Any time you play Paola, you have to be (mentally ready) and tough,” McCullough said. “Our leadership was fantastic.”

Evans and Spigle, who spearheaded the press, also were the top scorers. Both finished with 13 points. Evans was coming off an 11-point performance against Santa Fe Trail.

Ottawa (45) — Evans 13, Spigle 13, Hadl 8, Nichols 4, Curtis 3, Ficken 3, Titus 1.

Paola (30) —Ediger 9, A. Kehl, A. 5, Yates 4, Kank 4, Clark 4,

Smith 2, Pitzer 2.

Ottawa (42) —Evans 11, Ficken 9, Titus 8, Curtis 4, Hadl 3,

Em. Keebaugh, 2, Callahan 2, Spigle 2.

Santa Fe Trail (33) —Merren 8, Washington 6, Buessing 5, Sisson 4, Banks 3, Whitaker 3, Rowe 2, Stone 2.