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Excitement abounds for Patterson’s Bulldogs

November 22, 2011
Ottumwa High School

Excitement abounds for Patterson’s Bulldogs

OTTUMWA — The Kevin Patterson era begins now.

He can’t wait to hit the floor tonight at Ankeny High School in his first game as head coach of the Ottumwa girls basketball team and the season opener for his Bulldogs.

Patterson, who took over for Stan Rupe last April, is as excited as he’s ever been coming into a season.

“Without question,” the Collins native stated.

Patterson coached Cardinal of Eldon to a school-best 16-8 record in 2008-2009. Then it was on to Logan Magnolia, where he led the Class 2A Panthers to a 38-7 mark in two campaigns and a No. 5 ranking last winter.

He’ll inherit a Bulldog team that sports three four-year starters and a squad hungry to get back to its first state tournament since 2002.

It’s been almost 10 years since the Bulldogs have been ranked and the release of this year’s preseason poll doled out by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has them rated once more.

Ottumwa, ranked 15th in Class 4A, went 14-9 last season and lost to state qualifier Iowa City West in the regional semis.

Needless to say, it’s been awhile since there’s been this much buzz for an upcoming Bulldog girls hoops season.

“We’ve got such a great mix of kids,” said Patterson.

Patterson’s roster starts with three seniors — Ashley Salgado, Rachel Hinebaugh and Kelsey Nickerson. Each have started since their freshman season.

Nickerson, Patterson’s shooting guard, is climbing the ladder on Ottumwa’s all-time scoring list. Patterson stated she’s at least as high as third in school scoring history in her career. Jessie Biggs, who helped guide Ottumwa to its last state tournament appearance, is the school’s record holder in that department and several other categories.

Nickerson is as smooth as they come in or around the perimeter and near the hoop. Her work ethic also sets her apart.

“With Kelsey, you’ll never have somebody put more time in the gym. Everything she’s gotten, she’s earned,” said Patterson.

Nickerson led Ottumwa in scoring (16.9 ppg), 3-pointers (46) and free-throw shooting (83 percent) her junior season.

Salgado, the Bulldogs’ point guard, was one of the top steal (76) and assist (100) leaders in the large-school class in 2010-2011. Salgado averaged 7.9 points per game.

“Ashley has made a conscious effort to be a great leader. That responsibility is in her hands,” said Patterson.

Hinebaugh has the best foot work on the blocks Patterson has ever witnessed in his coaching career. He stated that Hinebaugh has improved tremendously and ‘really isn’t a similar player from last year.’

“Her motor never stops and I love that about her,” said Patterson. “She really thinks she can score on everybody.”

Hinebaugh led Ottumwa in rebounding (6.2 per game) last winter and pumped in almost 10 points of scoring a contest.

Patterson summed up his talented Bulldog trio.

“They aren’t intimidated by anything and they’ve been through everything,” said Patterson.

Patterson’s other starters are seniors Paige Schreiner (small forward) and Tara Gott (center). The Bulldog head coach also mentioned that fellow senior Avery Roane is essentially a sixth starter and has valuable versatility in that she can play guard or forward.

“Paige is a great leader and always in defensive position. With Tara, you see a kid that is 5-4 and plays center in the CIML — that amazes me everyday,” said Patterson. “Avery has also learned to play a more physical style of basketball.”

Nickerson, Salgado, Hinebaugh and Roane all played AAU summer hoops this year.

Other Bulldogs that will likely be in Patterson’s playing rotation are juniors Sammy Garrett (guard), Sydney Strunk (forward), Olivia Roark (guard) and senior Alix Collins (guard). Junior Darby Patritto is also another skilled player that Patterson says to watch out for.

“Athletically we’re on par,” said Patterson.

Patterson and his bunch will get the ball up the court and focus on in-your-face defense.

“We’re getting out and running,” said Patterson about his fastbreak offense.

Patterson said the key to the up-tempo pace is sharing the basketball.

“Our unselfishness has been amazing in the first three weeks,” said the OHS coach.

Sophomores Megan Black, Averi Cash and Alexis Winn are also on Patterson’s roster.

As is the case every year, Ottumwa’s schedule is brutal and it starts out that way right off the bat. Three out of Ottumwa’s first four opponents are highly rated.

After tangling with third-ranked Ankeny in the season opener, Ottumwa hosts eighth-rated Dowling Catholic this Saturday. Then its another home date against Mount Pleasant — which sports Div. I signee and Bradley recruit Taylor Shull. The Bulldogs start out the month of December with a home date versus second-ranked Southeast Polk.

Ottumwa also plays alongside fellow league counterpart and CIML Metro foe Des Moines East. The Scarlets ran the table last year and won the Class 4A state championship.

Patterson gave a glimpse into what he perhaps wants his team’s defining trait to become.

“We always want to be fighting for everything,” said Patterson. “We’re going to be aggressive and take it to teams.”

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