OTTUMWA — The face of Indianola basketball has changed over the span of a year, and Ottumwa fully understands where they’re at.

Each team squares off tonight in a Class 4A, Substate 7 semifinal matchup in Indianola, and there are plenty of parallels between the two squads.

Indianola (12-8) and Ottumwa (6-16) have been paired together in the same substate the past two years and the No. 1 seed has come to each team.

Ottumwa garnered the top seed in the 2005 bracket, and Indianola currently holds the No. 1 seed in this season’s substate.

The squads mirror each other in more ways than being favored to advance to state the past two seasons. Indianola is basically in Ottumwa’s same situation as last season.

“Our roles have really reversed. Last year we were a senior-dominated team that was coming off a state tournament and got the No. 1 seed,” said Ottumwa head coach Mike Holmes.

Ottumwa is much like Indianola was last year and Holmes hopes his team can come on strong.

“They were a young team last year that was finding their way and lost a lot of close games — then they started to gel at the end,” said Holmes.

To add more intrigue to the contest, the Indians knocked off Ottumwa in the same situation as last year in the substate semifinal in Ottumwa. Indianola upset the top-seeded Bulldogs on March 4, 2005, 61-50.

Indianola also defeated Ottumwa this season on Jan. 3 at Evans Middle School, 42-35.

Seniors Robert Welborn and J.D. Cambron are the senior leaders for IHS head coach Travis Evans.

“They have weapons and they have senior weapons. They are very good and they’re going to be on their home floor,” said Holmes.

It was a junior that led Indianola in the regular season matchup against the Bulldogs. Eleventh-grader Seth Hutcheson led all scorers with 14 points.

Ottumwa’s sophomore Brian Delker netted 13 points to lead coach Holmes’ squad.

Junior OHS sharpshooter Kip Stuart will have to knock down some shots from long range if Ottumwa has a chance to advance to the substate final. He thinks the Bulldogs’ chances are as good as any to advance all the way to state.

“The substate is up for grabs. If we get rolling and get on a good streak we have a really good shot of taking it all the way,” said Stuart, who scored 11 points in the Bulldogs quarterfinal postseason win over West Des Moines Valley on Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs will rely heavily on its ball-possession game to prevent a track meet. If Ottumwa can neutralize Indianola’s main scoring options, a win isn’t far-fetched.

“Coach is telling us if we want to play more basketball, we have to defend and execute on offense,” said Stuart.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Indianola High School gymnasium. The winner plays the victor between Des Moines Lincoln and Southeast Polk in the substate final to be played next Tuesday at a site to be determined.

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