OTTUMWA — Three tough opponents await the Ottumwa boys basketball team next week — the final week of the regular season. The Bulldogs will enter that challenging stretch playing some of their best basketball of the season.
The Bulldog saved their best for last in CIML Metro play, gaining their most decisive win over a conference foe. Ottumwa scored 16 of the first 20 points at Des Moines East Friday and never looked back, winning handily 67-39 over the winless Scarlets.
The victory came just three days after the Bulldogs rallied from a one-point halftime deficit against Keokuk to win 69-59 at Evans Gym on Tuesday. Head coach Chris Gravett talked about the key that has led Ottumwa to play their six best quarters of the season.
“We’ve played very unselfish basketball,” Gravett said. “When we move the ball side to side and have guys moving, we’re tough to beat. We have mismatches we can take advantage of. The last six quarters, we’ve done a much better job of that.”
Ball movement and a zone defense by East left several Ottumwa shooters open on the perimeter. The Bulldogs took advantage, nailing 11 3-pointers in the win.
We shot them back into a man-to-man,” Gravett said. “We did everything well and we moved the basketball around. When we do that, we’re a pretty good team.”
The man-to-man allowed Faith Pope to attack the Scarlets inside. Pope scored a game-high 21 points for the Bulldogs.
Nick Allen nailed four 3-pointers, scoring 12 points for Ottumwa while Ben Kramer added 11. Eric Thorgaard added 10 points with three treys as the Bulldogs wrapped up Metro play at 5-5 and evened their overall record at 9-9.
Before beginning postseason play a week from Monday at Des Moines Lincoln, Ottumwa will face a tough final week of regular season action. The Bulldog kick the week off Tuesday at second-ranked (4A) Ankeny before traveling to No. 3 (3A) Mount Pleasant Thursday and hosting Dowling Catholic Friday.
“We have to play well. We have to play good, fundamental basketball. We have to play as hard as we can and let the chips fall where they may,” Gravett said. “It’ll be an uphill battle, but anybody can be beat. I know we’re better then what we’ve shown at times this season. If we put a full 32 minutes together, we can play with anybody.”
Ottumwa 67, Des Moines East 39
Ottumwa 16 12 19 20 — 67
D.M. East 4 10 15 10 — 39
Ottumwa (67) — Faith Pope 21, Nick Allen 12, Ben Kramer 11, Eric Thorgaard 10, Carter Burns 4, Kyle Keck 3, Adam Van Fleet 2, Mitch Hardie 2, Ryan Biggs 2. Totals 26 FG 4-9 67.
3-point goals — 11 (Allen 4, Thorgaard 3, Kramer 2, Keck, Pope). Total fouls — 9.
Des Moines East (39) — William Jackson 9, Brandon Long 7, Matt Stone 6, Dillon Hernandez 5, LeAndre Glover 4, Bedipeny Wom 4, Travis Cavin 2, Xavier James 2. Totals 16 FG 7-10 39.
3-point goals — 0. Total fouls — 10.