OTTUMWA — The start of the night was all about Ottumwa girls basketball.
The start of the game reminded the Bulldogs that Urbandale had come to play.
In the end, a night that started with honoring a career milestone in Ottumwa girls basketball history ended with a season milestone reached thanks to a strong rally from an early 9-0 deficit. Ottumwa outscored Urbandale 50-25 after the opening four minutes to earn their 10th win of the season with a 50-34 victory over the J-Hawks.
“We love to not score first. I think we do that just to give ourselves a challenge,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin Patterson joked. “Maybe I need to do that in practice — put some points up on the opponents side of the scoreboard.”
Before the contest tipped off, senior Kelsey Nickerson was honored for becoming the all-time leading scorer in Ottumwa girls basketball history. The four-year starter scored 25 points in a win Friday at Des Moines Lincoln, giving Nickerson 1,142 for her career.
“It’s an accomplishment, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Nickerson said. “I can’t take all the credit for it. I put a lot of work into it, but I can’t score if my team doesn’t get me the ball.”
“We’ve been playing together since fourth grade and for her to achieve that is kind of like a team accomplishment,” fellow senior Rachel Hinebaugh said of Nickerson, who like Hinebaugh scored a game-high 14 points on Tuesday. “I’m so proud of her for all the hours in the gym she put through and all the practice we’ve put in as team to help make her the player she’s become.”
Points were harder to come by in the first four minutes of the contest for Ottumwa, who missed their first six shots. Renise Collier lifted Urbandale to a game-opening 9-0 run and a 12-7 lead after one quarter with seven points and six rebounds.
“I just think we weren’t expecting that from Urbandale right out of the gate,” Hinebaugh said. “We know how to play as a team. We know we that we can fight back. We’re not going to give up in the first quarter.”
The Bulldogs began to establish themselves in the second quarter, scoring the first 10 points of the period to take their first lead. Hinebaugh began to even the battle in the post with Collier, scoring 10 first-half points.
“We know each other. We’ve played together for so many years. I have confidence in every single one of these girls that we can get the job done,” Hinebaugh added.
One player that got it done in the second half was Tara Gott, who gave the Bulldogs a dual post threat with Hinebaugh in the second half. After a scoreless first half, Gott scored all 12 of her points in the second 16 minutes including the first six points out of the locker room for Ottumwa.
“She might be short for a post player, but she’s one of the strongest girls I’ve ever met,” Hinebaugh said of Gott. “She may not get the size advantage, but she’s going to power up strong and go hard.”
“I go against her everyday in practice. It’s not easy. She so strong and knows how to use her body well.”
Collier did all she could to keep Urbandale (4-10) in the contest with a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double. The Bulldog defense ultimately made the difference, allowing just five second-half field goals and forcing 19 J-Hawk turnovers in the win.
“We had a much better effort defensively,” Patterson said. “We’re so close to putting everything together. When we got out in transition, they had no answer for us.”
After losing their first four games, the Bulldogs have accomplished a lot in their last 10 games. Ottumwa (10-5) will look to keep achieving success on Friday as the outright CIML Metro leaders host Des Moines North.
Nickerson was happy to share in another Bulldog win, but was surprised by how the night began.
“I had no idea they were going to do that,” Nickerson said of the pre-game honors, which included being given a basketball signed by every member of the Bulldog girls basketball team. “ I wasn’t prepared for it, but it was a nice surprise.”
“All the seniors ran out to her because she’s unselfish,” Patterson added. “She doesn’t force things. She’s a great kid, which is even more important then being a great player. I’m glad we got the chance to honor her.”
Ottumwa 50, Urbandale 34
Urbandale 12 6 7 9 — 34
Ottumwa 7 15 10 18 — 50
Urbandale (34) — Renise Collier 13, Bailey Egger 8, Meliha Cerimovic 6, Allie Mataloni 5, Stepanie Boord 2. Totals 13-44 5-8 34.
3-point goals — 3-15 (Egger 2-5, Mataloni 1-9, Cerimovic 0-1). Rebounds — 31 (Collier 16, Boord 3, Egger 3, Mataloni 3, Cerimovic 2, Jordan Schill 2, Mackenzie Brees, Mary Young). Assists — 12 (Schill 6, Mataloni 3, Collier 2, Egger). Steals — 6 (Collier 2, Cerimovic, Egger, Mataloni, Schill). Blocks — 2 (Collier 2). Total fouls — 12. Turnovers — 19.
Ottumwa (50) — Rachel Hinebaugh 14, Kelsey Nickerson 14, Tara Gott 12, Avery Roane 4, Paige Schreiner 4, Ashley Salgado 2. Totals 20-47 9-14 50.
3-point goals — 1-7 (Nickerson 1-3, Olivia Roark 0-1, Salgado 0-1, Schreiner 0-2). Rebounds — 27 (Hinebaugh 9, Salgado 4, Sammy Garrett 3, Gott 3, Nickerson 3, Roane 3, Schreiner 2). Assists — 16 (Salgado 7, Garrett 3, Schreiner 3, Roark 2). Steals — 5 (Hinebaugh 3, Nickerson, Salgado). Blocks — 2 (Hinebaugh, Roane). Total fouls — 14. Turnovers — 7.