Courier Staff Writer
The Ottumwa boys basketball team is still in search of that elusive first victory after a 66-47 loss to a hungry Fort Madison team Saturday at Evans Middle School.
Although the Bulldogs were able to cut down on their turnovers compared to previous outings, they couldn’t put the breaks on the Bloodhounds high-octane offense.
“We really didn’t do that poorly offensively in the first half, we just couldn’t stop anybody,” Coach Chris Gravett said. “We couldn’t defend a statue out there.”
Sophomores Carter Burns and Andrew Altfillisch supplied the bulk of Ottumwa’s offense. Burns, who was an unstoppable inside the paint in the first half, finished with a team-high 21 points. Seventeen of the 6-foot-6 Bulldog big man’s points came in the first half. Altfillisch added 15 points, many of which came on dribble-drives to the bucket.
“Early on we were getting the ball down low to Carter and Burns was scoring at will,” Gravett said.
The Bloodhounds started the game with a high level of intensity and offensive competence that Ottumwa didn’t reciprocate. Burns, however, did get Ottumwa off to an exciting start when he drove the left baseline and finished the play with a rim-rattling two-hand jam. Unfortunately, instead of offering a promising glimpse of things to come, the slam just induced Fort Madison to turn their intensity up another notch.
Bloodhound John Nagel drove down the lane on two separate occasions and found a teammate by the basket with a hook-shot like pass that led to two easy buckets. Fort Madison’s Jonathan Temenak and Marcus Knipe were both able to get buckets inside and the Bulldogs quickly fell behind 16-6. Altfillisch managed to beat his man off the dribble and convert on two tough scoring drives to keep his team from falling too far behind. Ottumwa trailed 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Miles Wentzien, who finished with a game-high 24 points, stripped the ball from Altfillish and took it down the floor for a layup to start the second. Moments later, Knipe intercepted a pass by Matthew Moreland in the backcourt and took it in for another layup. The Bloodhound offense continued to relentlessly attack the Bulldog defense. Wentzien banked in a turnaround off the glass after getting excellent post-up position on Altfillisch deep inside the lane. Burns, however, kept the Bulldogs in the game with basket after basket inside. Then Altfillisch penetrated the lane from the left wing, drawing the attention of a couple of defenders who came out to meet him, which allowed Altfillisch to find Burns down low for an easy bucket. Ottumwa managed to cut the lead to 30-23 before Wentzien calmly drilled a mid-range jumper. When halftime arrived, the Bulldogs trailed 35-24.
Wentzien widened his team’s lead with two consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter. By the end of the quarter the Bloodhounds had built a 49-31 lead.
Altfillisch kicked off the fourth quarter with another strong dribble-drive to the bucket. But Ottumwa failed to cut into the Bloodhounds considerable lead and Fort Madison went on to win it.
One of the only positives that could be gleaned from the loss was that Ottumwa did a better job of taking care of the ball.
“Our main focus tonight was to limit turnovers, so we did that compared to other games,” Bulldog Austin Walker said.
Although he thought his team was hustling, Gravett said there is a difference between hustling and competing.
“They played harder,” the coach said, “They out-competed us for everything. They came here with something to prove and we just kind of let them do whatever they wanted to do.”
Walker said his team needs to sharpen its play in more than one area of the game.
“We just need to improve overall. ... Get Carter touches, set better screens ... More screens .... Move on offense ... Get more stops on defense.”
Ottumwa (0-4, 0-1) plays Des Moines Hoover Tuesday at Evans Middle School in CIML Conference action.
Fort Madison 66, Ottumwa 47
Fort 18 17 14 17 — 66
Ottu 10 14 7 16— 47
FORT (66) — Isaac Steffensmeier 3, Miles Wentzien 24, Marcus Knipe 14, John Nagel 9, Wesley Bernhardt 4, Jonathan Temenak 11, Jordan Brecount 1. Totals 19FG 16-18FT. Total fouls — 18.
OTT (47) — Matthew Moreland 2, Andrew Altfillisch 15, Brok Hopwood 1, Curtis Shneckcloth 5, Austin Walker 3, Carter Burns 21. Totals 17FG 13-20FT 47.
3-point goals — None. Fouled out — None. Rebounds — 14 (Burns 5). Assists — 4 (Kyle Keck 1, Moreland 1, Walker 1, Altfillisch). Steals — 4 (Walker, Keck, Moreland, Altfillisch). Total fouls — 18. Turnovers — 9.