OTTUMWA — The unforgiving cold that's descended on the Midwest this week forced the Ottumwa Bulldog girls' and boys' basketball games against Keokuk Monday night to be canceled.
Now both teams must turn right around and play CIML Metro Conference opponent Des Moines North tonight at Evans Middle School in two distinctively different games. The girls face a Polar Bear squad that has yet to garner a victory in 10 attempts, while the Bulldog boys face a talented North squad that boasts a perfect 7-0 record. The girls' game starts at 6:15 p.m. and the boys' start at 7:45 p.m.
Both Ottumwa teams enter the contest after they sustained 12-point defeats at Des Moines East last Friday. Although their defeats came by the exact same margin — the girls lost 54-42 and the boys 67-55 — the girls had more positives to glean from their game than the boys.
Indeed, the Bulldog girls put forth an inspired second-half effort that included a big fourth-quarter rally that shaved the deficit to single digits at one point and a third quarter where Ottumwa's stifling defense only surrendered five points to the fifth-ranked Scarlets.
Hayli Beeson had a superb night, knocking down five-of-seven 3-pointers on her way to scoring a team-high 17 points and Rachel Zingg tossed in 9 points of her.
"I think it shows we have glimpses of being a good team," Ottumwa coach Kevin Patterson said, "and more consistency is needed to beat a team on a high level."
Ottumwa manhandled Des Moines North in both their meetings last winter, trouncing the Polar Bears 57-9 and 69-14. Patterson, however, wants to make sure his team is not overconfident.
"You have to really focus on yourself and not play to the level of your competition whether it's good or bad," Patterson said. "We have to focus on what we need to do and not focus so much on what other teams need to do."