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Cyclone boys struggle without practice time

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa High School boys basketball team needs time together. That time has been curtailed because of the pandemic.

Practices were limited throughout the summer to protect players. Practice sessions were cut during the season and then the squad went through a quarantine period.

Ottawa has yet to have enough practices between games to help advance the players.

Ottawa High School sophomore Jake Titus powers his way through the Pittsburg defense to the basket.

“If we want to get better and compete, we have a lot of work to do,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said Friday after a 62-42 loss to Pittsburg. “We play Monday, when do you get better? These guys are not built to get better in games.

“Three games next week and Monday and Tuesday and we get back into our league schedule. I don’t know how we are going to develop players. These players are not built to make those kinds of adjustments on the fly. They don’t have the depth of knowledge of the game of basketball to be able to do that."

Ottawa came into the season with one player having varsity experience. Ottawa has struggled to play up to its competition.

“We are trying to discuss what is the best way to move forward,” McCullough said. “We are going to have to go back and simplify everything. Start basic. We have to figure out what we’re good at.”

Ottawa, coming off a 59-54 win over Baldwin, came out well building a 10-1 lead on Pittsburg. The visitors turned the tide and Ottawa’s game disappeared. Pittsburg’s zone defense took away Ottawa’s options on offense.

“The zone took us out of everything,” McCullough said. “Before that, we got everything we wanted. It was good to see Jake [Titus] break out.

“When we play teams that are athletic and have speed, those athletes get to us. We struggle with kids that can get after it.”

Ottawa (3-3) played Monday against Silver Lake in the Burlington Invitational. The second game is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.