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Cyclones searching for defensive identity

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

Mental mistakes and a lack of defensive identity continues to plague the Ottawa High School boys basketball team.

The Cyclones have surrendered 50-plus points in three of the five games after Tuesday’s 59-54 win over Baldwin.

Ottawa High School senior Jose Richards takes the ball strong to the basket against Baldwin during Tuesday’s win.

The Cyclones never could put away the Bulldogs, despite scoring a season-best. Ottawa was coming off a season-low offensive output in a loss to Tonganoxie.

“This is a little more concerning for me because of the mental mistakes we are making,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “Defending them we had some huge concerns. Defending comes from heart, playing with a lot of heart. Playing with a lot of pride. We have been trying to address the pride thing. Ottawa basketball is a very proud program.

“You can come out and play defense. You don’t have to be a great athlete to play defense. You just have to come out and work your tail off.”

Ottawa’s mental mistakes came as they left shooters open and alleys down the middle of the defense.

“No. 5 had hit four or five threes on us,” McCullough said. “Guess where they are going with the ball and why are we not defending it. That three-ball is a momentum killer. They don’t feel that part of the game. We make adjustments in a timeout and at halftime. We talk about things in film, on the court and it is not getting applied in game situations.”

Ottawa needed one of its better offensive games to overcome those lapses.

“Offensively, we could get what ever we wanted,” McCullough said. “We are not the most skilled basketball team that Ottawa has ever had. We don’t have dead-eye shooters that Ottawa has had in the past.”

Ottawa a couple of times built double-digit leads, but Baldwin rallied each time.

“We would get that double-digit lead, then we can’t sustain it,” McCullough said. “They don’t understand that when we have the momentum, they have to keep after it. I don’t think it is an effort thing.”

Ottawa (3-2) plays Friday at home against Pittsburg.