It wasn’t always picture-perfect.
But wins, especially in the season, still count just the same.
The Ottumwa High School girls basketball team built itself an 18-point cushion heading to the fourth quarter, then held off Mount Pleasant for a 56-43 win Monday at Evans Middle School.
“When you don’t hit the outside shots, you have to find different ways to score, and we did that,” Ottumwa coach Joe VandenBerg said. “That’s a good thing.”
Kacy Nickerson scored a game-high 17 points for the second game in a row for Ottumwa (2-0), while Alli Bookin-Nosbisch added 13 despite playing with some second-half foul trouble.
However, what might have set the Bulldogs apart was their aggressive inside game, which produced 31 trips to the free-throw line. Bookin-Nosbisch was 7 for 10 at the line in the first half in which the Bulldogs led 28-20.
“We were better from the line tonight,” VandenBerg said, in reference to the team’s season-opening win over Fort Madison. “We knew Mount Pleasant was going to play a zone, so we had to have that attacking mentality. We’re a team where anyone can score, and we’re still seeing that.”
Still, the Panthers (0-2) kept it close in the first half by beating Ottumwa’s defense down the floor with long passes, then finally hitting shots in the fourth quarter in an effort to rally.
Ottumwa led 44-26 going to the final eight minutes, but the Panthers got a pair of jumpers and a driving layup from Sydni Coleman as part of a 9-1 run to get within 45-35 with just over five minutes left.
However, with chances to get within single digits, the Panthers couldn’t convert as the Bulldogs’ interior defense collapsed around the post players, forcing turnovers as Mount Pleasant came up empty on several possessions late in the game.
Nickerson hit a key jumper to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 49-37 with just over three minutes left, and the Panthers got within nine on a pair of free throws by Isabel Ashton, but they got closer closer.
Vandenberg called his team’s defense “questionable at times.” He wasn’t as kind about the rebounding.
“It was unacceptable,” he said. “That’s got to change, but we won. Hat’s off to Mount Pleasant because they played a heck of a game. They worked their butts off to get it back to 10, and they gave us a game tonight.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments the next time we see them.”
Ashton led the Panthers with 12 points, with six coming in each half.
The Bulldogs take a step up in competition Friday, when they visit 11th-ranked (Class 5A) Ames, which is led by junior Caroline Waite, a Bradley commit who scored 29 points in the teams’ meeting last year in Ottumwa, which the Little Cyclones won 58-47 with the difference an 11-0 run to start the game.
“Waite is a hell of a player,” VandenBerg said. “Ames has been tested already, and she’s a player who’s been through it all. We’ll watch film on them and be ready to go.”
MOUNT PLEASANT (43)
Karsyn Lamm 0 1-2 1, Isabel Ashton 4 4-5 12, Elli Liechty 1 1-2 3, Lydia Stewart 2 2-4 4, Sydni Coleman 4 0-2 9, Kenna Lamm 1 0-0 2, Avery Sutter 0 0-0 0, Tristian Shull 0 0-0 0, Emma Huckabone 1 2-6 4, Andrea Lopreato 2 0-2 5. Totals 15 10-21 43.
Katie Nelson 1 4-4 6, Kaylee Bix 3 2-4 8, Alli Bookin-Nosbisch 2 9-13 13, Kacy Nickerson 6 1-2 17, Anne Guest 0 2-4 4, Grace Bookin-Nosbisch 2 3-4 7, Chloe Schneckloth 1 0-0 3. Totals 15 21-31 56.
Score by quarters
MP 11 9 6 17 — 43
Ott 18 10 16 12 — 56
Fouls: Mount Pleasant 21, Ottumwa 19. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. 3-point goals: Stewart, Coleman, Lopreato; Nickerson 4, Schneckloth.
Records: Mount Pleasant 0-2, Ottumwa 2-0.