Boys basketball: Unselfish play guides Bulldogs past Demons

Ottumwa High School’s Matt Graeve (right) is fouled by Washington’s Trevor Quigley during Monday’s nonconference boys basketball game in Washington.

WASHINGTON — Four games in six days, three of them against Class 4A competition.

If the Ottumwa High School boys basketball team is going to make a push for a home game in the postseason, this is the time.

Trae Swartz scored 30 points — 21 in the second half — to lead three players in double figures as the Bulldogs rolled past Washington 71-48 in a nonconference game Monday. Though the Demons are in Class 3A, they entered play with nine wins in their first 12 games.

Ottumwa (6-7) won its third straight game as it continues to dig out of its early-season hole.

“The guys get tired of the repetition, all the running in practice, but it’s showing up on the court right now,” Ottumwa coach Neil Hartz said. “Everything is clicking for us, and everyone is buying in.”

Adam Greiner scored 14 points for Ottumwa, while Joe Hammer added 13 for the Bulldogs, who have sought supplemental scoring to compliment Swartz, who entered the game tied for third in Class 4A in scoring at 22.3 points per game.

“They key to us the rest of the year is going to have that third guy,” Hartz said. “If we get three in double figures, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Swartz’ four-point play with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter helped the Bulldogs weather the storm after a quick start and an answer by Washington. The Bulldogs led 28-24 at halftime, but a defensive adjustment was the different in the second half.

“I thought we got a little lazy in the first half, but the way we defend when we get after people is pretty good,” Hartz said. “Washington is a physical team, the closest we will see to 4A physicality from a 3A schools. They have a good ball club, and they’re going to make some noise in the postseason.”

The Bulldogs continued to distribute the ball in the second half. Swartz got a bulk of the touches, but Greiner scored the last four points of the third quarter as Ottumwa built a 51-40 lead. Washington scored just eight points in the fourth quarter as Ottumwa pulled away, at one point scoring 11 consecutive points at the free-throw line.

“We were very unselfish tonight,” Hartz said. “Adam has learned how physical basketball is at this level. He’s taken some of it, but he’s also given some of it back. He’s just really adapted well.”

This was just the first game of a four-game week, and the Class 4A substate groupings will be announced Friday. Hartz hope his team can add another 4A win to its ledger, as the Bulldogs have one of those this year.

“We just have to take each game one by one,” he said. “We’ll go easy Wednesday because Friday and Saturday will be a gauntlet and we’ll need legs for those games.

“But, as long as we keep winning, those aches and pains are gone.”

Ottumwa hosts Marshalltown in a CIML crossover game today.

Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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