Bulldogs bounce back

Adam Greiner celebrates after converting a lay-up while being fouled for the Ottumwa boys basketball team during a CIML Metro Conference win over Des Moines East on Friday night at Evans Middle School Gymnasium in Ottumwa. Trae Swartz (22) led OHS with 28 points in the victory.

Scott Jackson | The Courier

OTTUMWA — The last time the Ottumwa boys basketball team faced Des Moines East, the Bulldogs were desperate for a win.

On Friday night, the Bulldogs were hungry to get another winning streak started.

Trae Swartz scored 17 of his game-high 28 points in the very first quarter as Ottumwa responded just 24 hours after having a six-game winning streak snapped by Des Moines Roosevelt. The Bulldogs scored over 24 points in three of four quarters, rolling to an 86-53 CIML Metro Conference win over Des Moines East, giving the Bulldogs 10 wins in a single season for the first time since 2014.

“The last thing you want to do after a heartbreaker like last night is to have a few practices and let it sit on you,” Ottumwa head boys basketball coach Neil Hartz said. “We had to come right back, played right away and I think the goal for the guys now is to start another winning streak.”

The Bulldogs were on another streak prior to an 82-55 win at Des Moines East back on Jan. 16. Ottumwa entered that game having lost five straight games.

Ottumwa (10-8, 4-5 CIML Metro) has certainly turned things around in between games with the Scarlets. The victory at East began a six-game winning streak, the longest in almost two decades for the Bulldogs and has Ottumwa in line to host a postseason game for the first time in six years.

Ottumwa had hoped to extend its winning streak to seven in a row on Thursday. Instead, the Bulldogs fell three points short of Des Moines Roosevelt, losing 46-43 when Joe Hammer’s mid-court 3-point heave at the buzzer fell short.

“When you have a streak, sooner or later it’s going to be broken. That’s when you have to pick yourself up and start a new streak,” Hartz said. “They were ready to roll. We struggled a little out of the gate, but from that point it was all Ottumwa Bulldog basketball.”

East showed no fear entering Evans Gymansium on Friday, jumping out to a 13-9 lead. The Bulldog battled back behind Swartz and Gatlin Menninga, who combined for all 24 points in the opening quarter for OHS.

Menninga had a 3-pointer and tying free throw before collecting a steal and driving in for a go-ahead lay-up. East (0-17, 0-8 CIML Metro) answered with a baseline jumper from Brayden Carre, but would not score from the field again until the final three minutes of the second half.

Over the next eight minutes, Ottumwa outscored East 23-3 with the only three points for the Scarlets coming after James Jefferson hit three free throws after bing fouled by Adam Greiner. Greiner responded with a lay-up while being fouled, which turned into a four-point possession after Swartz gathered in the missed free throw and scored while also being fouled to put Ottumwa up 32-18.

“I told the guys before the game is that, with a team like East, the longer you let them hang around the more momentum and confidence they build up,” Hartz said. “You have to put a team like that away early. We were a little lackadaisical, so I called a timeout, got a little heated and we gave up nine points for the rest of the first half.”

Kie Glosser added 10 points for Ottumwa as the Bulldogs had 11 different players contribute to the third 80-point performance by the Bulldogs this season. Needing just two more wins to clinch a winning season, Ottumwa hosts Mount Pleasant on Monday night, Urbandale on Tuesday and wrap up conference play at Des Moines Roosevelt next Friday.

The Bulldogs also hope to hear good news in terms of their postseason draw. Ottumwa’s six-game winning streak has put the Bulldogs in line for as high as a No. 3 seed in the six-team field of Class 4A, Substate 5.

“Goal one was to get to double-digit wins this season. Goal two was to get a home playoff game. We’re going to get that one. Our third goal is to win a playoff game. We’re hoping to do that,” Hartz said.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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