OHS girls basketball program heading in right direction

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa High School girls basketball program is heading in the right direction.

The varsity squad went from hoping to be in games to giving everyone a battle in one season. The junior varsity and freshmen teams compiled winning records this season.

“I’m very excited about the direction of our program,” second-year Ottawa coach Matt Schurman said. “As a coach, we have to not get stuck in wins and losses. Our team continued to increase their ability to compete. Our basketball IQ went up tremendously.”

Ottawa High School junior Kirsten Evans protects the ball away from a Louisburg defender as she drives to the basket.

The season came to a halt Wednesday with a 44-34 loss in sub-state to state-ranked Louisburg. The Wildcats pulled away late by hitting free throws. The game was tied at 30-30 at the four-minute mark.

“It shows the growth,” Schurman said. “This game was a 10-point game, but it was closer than a 10-point game. Louisburg is a really solid team.”

Schurman credited the leadership of the senior for building a foundation toward being a consistent program.

Ottawa High School sophomore Brooklyn Hadl shoots a shot in the lane over the outstretched hand of a Louisburg defender.

“I talked to the seniors about that it is a testament to all the hard work they have put in,” he said. “It was a tough way to end for our seniors. I will appreciate what they did to turn this program around because it is a group effort. They set the building blocks to get us where we are at.”

Ottawa’s level of play increased tremendously this season losing close games to Baldwin (twice), Louisburg (twice) and Bonner Springs.

“While it does not show in wins and losses, this season was super competitive,” Schurman said. “We have to keep pushing to get to a point where being in the game is not enough. A couple of [plays] here or there, our record looks completely different. I hope our girls can take that away.

“Our [league] is tough. There is not an easy night. The league is not going to get any easier. It will continue to be a battle.”

One big area of improvement was in ballhandling and decision-making under pressure.

“In my first year, if anybody pressed us, we were in trouble,” Schurman said. “In a year, we went from getting pressed every game to hardly anyone pressing us at all because we were able to take advantage of it.”

Schurman is looking forward to a full summer to work with the returning players.

“We had people who did not get a lot of playing time right now will be big contributors next year,” he said. “They got some experience. We can take this progress and have a full summer of work and be able to get into the weight room [to get stronger].

“This team is going to be really good next year.”