Courier sports staff
BULLDOG PREVIEW: Ottumwa boys basketball vs. Cedar Rapids Xavier
Time and Place: 7:45 p.m tonight at Evans Middle School in Ottumwa.
Records: Ottumwa is 0-1 and Xavier is 2-0.
Xavier wins nail-biter: Despite losing their three top scorers from last season to graduation, the Saints are off to a strong start. After winning their season opener over defending state champion Mount Pleasant (3A) by a comfortable margin, Xavier managed to squeak by seventh-ranked (3A) Waverly-Shell Rock 49-46 in Waverly. The Saints finished 10-13 last season.
Playing All Four Quarters: Maintaining a high level of performance for all four quarters must be an essential component of any outcome that ends with an Ottumwa victory. The Bulldogs margin of defeat in Friday’s game at Southeast Polk — they lost 69-45 — would have been significantly smaller if they had not been outscored 23-2 by the Rams in the second quarter. Ottumwa finished the first quarter on an 8-0 run and only trailed Southeast Polk 16-14.
Keck Steps Up: Questions centering around who would fill the scoring void left by Faith Pope, Ben Kramer and Erik Thorgaard may have been partially answered in last Friday’s game by Kyle Keck, who led Ottumwa with 12 points against the Rams. Carter Burns and Austin Walker each scored 10 points for Ottumwa. Another positive that the Bulldogs can take from their season opener was field goal shooting — they went 18-for-36 from the field.
Coach Chris Gravett says: “We have to cut our turnovers way down (Ottumwa had 25 turnovers against SE Polk). We need to cut that in half.”