Roark leads Ottumwa to miraculous comeback victory
By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
OTTUMWA — When the U.S. Olympics Hockey team upset the heavily-favored Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, sportscaster Al Michaels uttered the now famous saying, “Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!”
This famous phrase also would have accurately described the Ottumwa girls basketball team’s thrilling 32-31 overtime victory Saturday over Fort Madison at Evans Middle School.
Things looked bleak, really bleak, for the Bulldogs with about one minute left in the fourth quarter. The girls trailed 30-22 and offered no hints of the ferocious comeback they were about to mount. After a strong first quarter, the girls had struggled mightily to put the ball in the hoop — they were shut out in the second quarter. And, further compounding their difficulties was the inconvenient fact that Megan Black and Hayli Beeson, arguably Ottumwa’s two best shooters, had fouled out. Indeed, nothing short of a miraculous comeback would be enough to get the Bulldogs the win. And that’s exactly what happened.
First, Olivia Roark, who led Ottumwa with 15 points, buried her first 3-pointer of the night. Moments later, the Bulldogs stole the ball in backcourt, which led to a layup by Averi Cash, who had just checked in for the first time in the game minutes before the shot.
Cash’s layup cut the Bloodhounds lead to 30-27.
Fort Madison’s turnover woes continued on ensuing possession as one of the Bloodhounds was whistled for traveling, which gave Ottumwa the ball back with a little over 12 seconds left in regulation. Again, Roark found herself open behind the 3-point line after her defender got knocked to the ground by a solid screen by Cash, and she knocked down the shot, tying the game at 30.
“I feel like I had to do my job and just work my butt off,” Roark said. “I had to shoot it so I just let it fly and it went in.”
“Her effort is nonstop all the time,” coach Kevin Patterson said about his senior guard.
The final seconds ticked off the clock and the game headed into overtime. Now that they had extended the game past regulation, the Bulldogs weren’t about to let this golden opportunity slip away.
“We were all like ‘we got to win this, we can do it,’” Alexis Winn, who knocked down what ended up being the game-winning free throw in overtime, said.
The game was tied at 31 when Winn was fouled inside with a little over 30 seconds left. She knocked down 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to give her team a one-point lead. The Bloodhounds failed to score again and Ottumwa picked up the victory.
“I told myself to block it out [the pressure] and treat it like another free throw,” Winn said after the game.
“It’s also big to have our post player have her best games back-to-back,” Patterson said about Winn.
The Bulldogs got off to a strong start in the first quarter and Black, who finished with 12 points, supplied the bulk of Ottumwa’s early offensive success. She banked in a shot to open the game and nailed a difficult jumper from the right baseline with a defender draped all over her. Roark complemented Black’s efforts by being extremely active on defense, as she stole a couple of passes, including one that she converted into a transition layup on the other end of the court. Ottumwa led 7-3 at the end of the quarter.
Unfortunately, the Bulldog offense went into a funk in the second quarter — nothing they threw up would fall. The Bulldogs poor shooting allowed Fort Madison to cut into and eventually eclipse Ottumwa’s lead. Bloodhound Rachel Steffensmeier knocked down a 3-pointer that narrowed the gap to 7-6 early in the quarter. Then in a possession where Fort Madison got three offensive rebounds, Caitlynn Holtkamp got fouled while trying to score inside. Holtkamp sank both free throws to give the Bloodhounds their first lead of the game — they wouldn’t relinquish the lead until the final seconds of regulation. Holtkamp got another bucket inside before halftime to give the Bloodhounds a 10-7 lead. Things were not looking good for Ottumwa: the Bulldogs hadn’t scored in the second quarter and the Fort Madison had ended the half on a 7-0 run.
The Bloodhounds widened their lead in the third quarter. Fort Madison’s Jordyn Meierotto knocked down a 3-pointer to give her team a 21-14 lead with 1:54 left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs substantially cut down their turnovers in the game compared to previous outings, turning the ball over only 11 times.
Much of this can be attributed to Sydney Strunk, who did an excellent job of running the offense. Although she struggled from the field, Beeson made up for it by pulling down a team-high nine rebounds. Roark led the team with five steals.
Ottumwa (2-4) plays Des Moines Hoover Tuesday at Evans Middle School.
“I think we should have came out better from the start but even if your down you have to fight back. ... You don’t give up,” Roark said.
Do you believe in miracles? Apparently the Bulldogs would answer that question with an emphatic yes!
Ottumwa 32, Fort Madison 31
Fort 3 7 11 9 1 — 31
Ottu 7 0 7 16 2 — 32
Fort (31) — Sarah Steffensmeier 2, Caitlin Marshall 3, Rachel Steffensmeier 6, Caitlynn Holtkamp 8, Ali Burghoffer 7, Jordan Meierotto 4. Totals 9G 11-23FT 31.
3-point goals — 2 (Steffensmeier, Meierotto). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — 21 (Holtkamp 4, Burghoffer 4). Blocks — Holtkamp. Total fouls — 13. Turnovers — 15.
Ottu (32) — Olivia Roark 15, Megan Black 12, Hayli Beeson 2, Alexis Winn 1, Averi Cash 2. Totals 9FG 8-13 32.
3-point goals — 3 (Roark 2). Fouled out — 2 (Black, Beeson). Rebounds — 25 (Beeson 9). Steals — 13 (Roark 5). Blocks — 1 (Black). Total fouls — 21. Turnovers — 11.
Roark leads Ottumwa to miraculous comeback victory
- On Tap Tuesday Boys Basketball Class 3A State Quarterfinals Chariton vs. Dubuque Walhert at Des Moines (Wells Fargo Arena), 2 p.m. College Baseball Indian Hills at McLennan, 2 p.m.
- Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament Monday, Mar. 10 Class 1A State Quarterfinals No. 8 Keota (24-1) vs. Easton Valley (21-2), 10:30 a.m. No. 1 Newell-Fonda (25-0) vs. No. 9 West Lyon, Inwood (20-5), 12:15 p.m. No. 5 Dunkerton (25-1) vs. East Mills (23-3), 2 p.m. No. 3 Lamoni (25-0) vs.
- Boys State Basketball Tournament Boys State Basketball Tournament At Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines MONDAY Class 2A State Quarterfinals Albia (16-7) vs. Western Christian, Hull (24-0), 6:35 p.m. (KIIC 96.7 FM) At Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines Boys State Basketball Tournament
- Iowa Girls State Basketball Tournament Monday, Mar. 3 Class 1A State Quarterfinals No. 4 Colo-Nesco 38, No. 6 Lynnville-Sully 34 No. 1 Newell-Fonda 73, Bedford 37 No. 2 Janesville 58, No. 11 Rockford 46 No. 3 Burlington-Notre Dame 90, No. 8 Adair-Casey 50 Class 2A State Quarterfinals No.
- Dowling, S.E. Polk rematch DES MOINES -- Get ready for a rematch in the Class 5A championship game. It will be Southeast Polk-Dowling Catholic, Part II, at 8 tonight after both advanced with semifinal victories over higher ranked opponents. No. 9 Southeast Polk, the defending
- Falcons fall at Eastern Oklahoma State WILBURTON, OKLA — After getting back on the right side of .500 last weekend with a four-game sweep at North Arkansas, the Indian Hills baseball team lost a tough battle to another team with JUCO World Series hopes. IHCC fell in the ninth game of its
- Hutchinson, Here They Come! OTTUMWA — There was one player on the court Thursday that had been here before. That player was Roderick Bobbitt, who two years ago as a freshman at Indian Hills was part of a dominant district championship win over North Dakota State College of Scie
- Blue Demons face 'Cinderella' scenario in state hoops return OTTUMWA — Twice, Kevin Archer has led the Albia boys basketball team to the state tournament. Twice, Archer did it by winning a substate game in the home gym of his alma-mater. Twice, the state has rewarded the Blue Demons with the lowest seed possib
- No Headline Provided College Baseball Indian Hills at Seminole State (DH), 1 p.m. College Basketball Oklahoma State at Iowa State, 1 p.m. (ESPN) Illinois at Iowa, 7:30 p.m. (BTN) Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Semifinals Northern Iowa or Southern Illinois vs. Indi
- Pheasant fest coming to Iowa in 2015 Courier sports staff DES MOINES -- Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will take its annual celebration, National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic, to Des Moines on Feb. 20-22, 2015. The largest show in the country for upland hunters, bird dog owners
- More Sports Headlines