Monday, December 22, 2014

Cyclones send rivals swirling at state tourney

By GREG MAST, Herald Sports Editor | 3/6/2013

SALINA — Ottawa’s state experience was evident from the start Wednesday in the first round of the 4A State Basketball Tournament in Salina.

The Ottawa High School boys program was making its sixth straight state appearance, while Anderson County had not been to state since 1997.

SALINA — Ottawa’s state experience was evident from the start Wednesday in the first round of the 4A State Basketball Tournament in Salina.

The Ottawa High School boys program was making its sixth straight state appearance, while Anderson County had not been to state since 1997.

Ottawa took advantage of those early jitters and its overall talent for a 76-44 win over the Bulldogs.

Ottawa (23-0) plays 4:45 p.m. Friday in the semifinals against Andale (21-2).

Both coaches felt state experience was a big thing.

“The comfort level of playing here had a lot to do with it,” Ottawa coach Jon McKowen said.  “Our kids knew what to expect and they executed. They were very loose in shoot around.”

Anderson County coach Steve Lyon saw his team miss early shots.

“At first I thought we were not, but when we missed three easy shots at the beginning…,” Lyon said. “It would have been nice to make those. Maybe we could have made it a game a little longer.

“Our kids played real hard. Ottawa is a great team. We battled hard.”

Anderson County was within 9-7 and missed a trey to take the lead midway through the first quarter.

Ottawa picked up the pace from there. The Cyclones led 21-11 at end of the first quarter.

The Cyclones used a 26-5 run — 9-3 to close the half and a 17-2 spurt to open the third quarter — put the game away. Ottawa led 55-23 with 4:15 left in the third quarter.

“The start of the second half, we extended the lead,” McKowen said. “We kind of put it away. That has been our staple the six years I have been here.”

Lyon said his team did not give up, despite the huge deficit.

“A little bit in the third quarter we got down, but we bounced back,” he said. “They shot the ball well. You can’t leave anybody open.”

Ottawa senior Semi Ojeleye, who was 12 of 26 from the floor en route to 32 points, broke a 53-year-old state record for points in a single season. Ojeleye has 880 points this season, topping the old mark of 872 set by Steve Cadue in 1960.

“It is absolutely amazing what he does,” McKowen said. “It is his teammates. When he is rolling get him good shots. Teams have heavy game plans for him.”

Ojeleye also gave props to his teammates and does not have time to let all these records sink in.

Alex Hasty, who tossed in a career-best 22 points, said Ojeleye is special.

“It is a pleasure to be involved,” he said. “It happens every now and again. He is the best scorer in Kansas.”

Hasty scored 20-plus for the second straight game.

“I tried to be aggressive and take some pressure off Semi,” Hasty said.

Ojeleye, who has been in a shooting slump, said it is part of the game.

“You go through slumps,” Ojeleye said. “That is part of basketball. You just keep shooting.

“I try to get to the free throw line. You can relax and see the ball go through.”

He had help. Kaden Shaffer was the third Cyclone in double figures with 11 points.

Ottawa’s defense forced 21 turnovers and turned those into  a 27-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

“Ottawa was quick,” Lyon said. “Some of it was poor decisions. Ottawa made us pay when they stole the ball.”

Lyon said this was a good experience for the Bulldogs.

“It is something the kids will never forget,” he said. “It is a big step coming to state.”

The Bulldogs (17-7) were paced by Zach Hilliard and Eric Tastove with 11 points each.

Anderson County (44) — Gilbreath 5, Dial 3, Lickteig 2, Hilliard 11, Rickabaugh 4, Tastove 11, Walter 2, Comfort 1.

Ottawa (76) — Graf 3, Boeh 1, Shaffer 11, Hasty 22, Natt 7, Ojeleye 32.

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