Courier sports writer
While there’s no such thing as a moral victory, the Ottumwa boys team made some positive strides in its 49-35 loss to Des Moines Hoover Tuesday at Evans Middle School.
“I thought we competed harder, I thought we didn’t make as many mistakes, and we’re getting better,” Coach Chris Gravett said.
Trailing 28-13 at halftime, the Bulldogs came out and had a strong third quarter, spurred by a couple of 3-pointers by Carter Burns and Austin Walker. Ottumwa maintained its high level of play through the rest of the half and ended up beating the Huskies 22-21 in the final two quarter.
“We kind of started to get in the rhythm in the third quarter,” senior Charlie Altfillisch said.
Actually, thanks to Altfillisch, Ottumwa began to build momentum at the end of the second half when Altfillisch drilled a mid-range jumper in the final seconds of the half. Altfillisch said the shot gave the team and him personally an extra boost of confidence.
In the third quarter, Carter Burns, who led the Bulldogs with 16 points, cajoled his defender to go for a pump fake, before he scored inside on a strong move while drawing contact from the same defender.
He sank his free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play. Moments later, Burns launched a 3-pointer that rattled around the rim and fell in. Later in quarter, Walker complemented Burns 3 with a 3-pointer of his own.
Unfortunately, the Huskies were more or less matching Ottumwa basket for basket. Towards the end of the quarter, Altfillisch penetrated down the middle of the lane, split two Husky defenders and flipped it in. Ottumwa trailed Hoover 36-24 after three quarters.
The Bulldogs got some productive minutes on offense from Brok Hopwood, who provided Ottumwa with 5-point burst in the final quarter. Malachi Canada, who led the Huskies with 18 points, continued to consistently supply his team with points in the fourth and Hoover went on to win it.
The Huskies pushed the tempo early in the game and much of their offensive success came from penetration off the dribble.
“We want to play faster this year to put the pressure on the defense so they can’t set up in their zones and try to stop us,” Canada said.
The Huskies jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the first. Hoover point guard Khalid Edwards let the clock run down to the final seconds at the end of the first quarter before he calmly buried a shot from above the free-throw line.
Hoover continued to expand its lead in the second. After Gatlat Toang finished a fast break with a finger roll, the Huskies led 21-6. They maintained their the 15-point advantage for the rest of the quarter.
Ottumwa played a much smarter game than it had previously, finishing with only 10 turnovers. Gravett, however, said his team had to adjust to level of physicality being allowed on the court in the first half.
“We had to make adjustments to getting held on cuts,” he said.
Still, the coach was pleased with the improvement his team showed compared to its previous outing.
“Things are moving in the right direction,” Gravett said. “It’s a work in progress but we’re getting better and that’s the big key.”
Ottumwa (0-5) plays at Indianola Friday.
Des Moines Hoover 49, Ottumwa 35
Hoover 16 12 8 13 — 49
Ottu 4 9 11 11 — 35
Hoov (49) — Malachi Canada 16, Gatlat Toang 4, Dorian Houston 5, Khalid Edwards 12, Ahlijah Thomas 2, Chris King 7, Kaelen Toliver 1. Totals 17 FG 13-18 FT 49.
3-point goals — 2 (King, Edwards). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — 18 (Canada 6). Assists — 3 (Korie Daughtery 2). Steals — 4 (Daughtery 2). Blocks — 5 (Toang 2). Total fouls — 11. Turnovers — 7.
Ott (35) — Kyle Keck 2, Andrew Altfillisch 3, Brok Hopwood 5, Carter Burns 16, Charlie Altfillisch 6, Austin Walker 3. Totals 14 FG 4-5 FT 35.
3-point goals — 3 (Burns, Walker, Hopwood). Fouled out — Keck. Rebounds — 14 (6 Burns). Steals — 3 (Burns 1, Chris Peden 1, A. Altfillisch). Blocks — 1 (Burns). Total fouls — 14. Turnovers — 10.