Cyclone boys searching for defensive identity

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa High School boys basketball team needs a jolt of sustained positive play.

Something to give them a sense of confidence.

“We need to find something positive, something to build on,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “There is no confidence there.”

Ottawa High School senior Tucker Baldwin finds an opening for a lay-up against Silver Lake.

The Cyclones have lost three of four games coming out of the holiday break to fall to 3-4. Ottawa lost 60-53 Monday to Silver Lake in the first round of the Burlington Tournament.

Ottawa plays 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Labette County, 61-37 losers to Rock Creek, in a consolation bracket game.

McCullough said the defense is non-existent right now.

“Offensively we are fine,” he said. “We have to figure out this defensive thing. Zone, man, we are not good. Any kind of defense we throw out there, we get lost.  I can find any strength in our defense to try and capitalize on that.”

Silver Lake took advantage, hitting nine treys in the first half to build a 33-26 halftime lead and quickly hit a couple more in the third quarter to open a double-digit lead.

“It is everything defensively,” McCullough said. “We can’t trust one another. It is a lack of know-how. It is lack of anticipation. We are two or three steps behind every offense. We can’t read what is going to happen or what we think is going to happen next. We are going to have to find something to slow teams down. We are two, three or four steps behind.”

Ottawa did make Silver Lake work harder for open shots in the second half, but could not overcome the large deficit.

“We are not built to dig ourselves out of a hole that we put ourselves into,” McCullough said. “We are not good at adjusting on the fly. We don’t have the knowledge to make little adjustments. We were much better [defensively] in the second half.”

Noah McCullough paced Ottawa with 16 points. Jake Titus and Brady Beets netted 13 points each.

Silver Lake (60) — Womack 15, Kaniper 8, Remer 3, Sterling 8, Osterhaus 18, Wyre 8.

Ottawa (53) — Titus 13, Beets 13, McCullough 16, Baldwin 6, Nitcher 3, Richards 2.