4A substate: Swartz powers Bulldogs past Grayhounds

Chad Drury/The Courier

Ottumwa High School boys basketball coach Neil Hartz (right) gestures his approval, while Burlington's Michael Alexander looks on, late in the second half of last season's Class 4A substate quarterfinal game at Evans Middle School in Ottumwa.

DES MOINES – Trae Swartz's pursuit for 1,000 career points will have to wait until a few more days.

Swartz needed just three quarters to score 18 points on Tuesday, leaving the talented Ottumwa High School senior with 987 points scored in 50 games over four seasons of varsity high school basketball. Swartz sat out the entire fourth quarter of a 64-40 CIML Metro conference win at Des Moines East.

Swartz was coming off a 28-point night on Monday at Carl Johannson Gymnasium, leading Ottumwa to a 60-51 win over Burlington in the rematch of a Class 4A substate opener from the previous season. As was the case on Tuesday at East, the defense of the Bulldogs helped break open a tight game as the Grayhounds were held to just four points in the third quarter, allowing Ottumwa to open a 12-point lead after going into the halftime break locked in a 30-30 tie.

Swartz shot 11-19 from the field on Monday in Burlington while collecting eight rebounds. Adam Greiner added 15 points and four steals for Ottumwa while Gatlin Menninga added 10 points in the postseason rematch.

"Trae was huge in the post. He was getting beat on but kept finishing," Ottumwa head boys basketball coach Neil Hartz said. "Adam and Gatlin were huge all game attacking the rim. We struggled rebounding in the first half then everyone crashed the glass in second half and eliminated their second-chance points."

Ottumwa again stymied an opponent on Tuesday, holding Des Moines East to just three field goals and eight points in the first half while opening a 29-point lead. The Scarlets didn't score a point in the second quarter and managed just one field goal in the final 13 minutes of the half after 3-pointers by JeCari Patton and Berhane Mikele gave the Scarlets an early 6-2 lead.

This was a good team win," Hartz said. "Everyone contributed on the court and from the beach."

Matt Graeve and Joe Hammer each added eight points for Ottumwa. Hammer was coming off one of his best floor games of the season at Burlington, dishing out a game-high 11 assists against the Grayhounds.

"I thought Joe did an amazing job handling the press and finding the open guy," Hartz said of Hammer. "That game was all about handling pressure. Our kids handled it and then some."

Patton led East (0-3, 0-3 Metro) with 10 points. Ottumwa (7-3, 2-1 Metro) returns to Des Moines on Friday to wrap up a stretch of seven straight road games at Roosevelt before returning home next Tuesday to host Marshalltown.

"I can't wait to get back to Evans," Hartz said.

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