Ottumwa High School girls basketball coach Joe VandenBerg wasn’t disappointed, but the end of the first half was unsettling.
He knew his team was better than it showed, and the Bulldogs didn’t take long to piece it all together.
After a strong first quarter in which the Bulldogs overcame a scorebook technical to start the game, Ottumwa fell into a rut before dominating the third quarter in a 62-25 CIML Metro win over Des Moines Hoover Friday at Evans Middle School.
“We just had to get back to doing what we did in the first quarter,” VandenBerg said. “I thought were a little flat before half. I wasn’t pleased how we finished it.”
Kaylee Bix scored a game-high 17 points for the Bulldogs to lead three teammates in double figures. Grace Bookin-Nosbisch added 16 points and Alli Bookin-Nosbisch 14. After spotting Hoover the first point of the game, the Bulldogs scored the next 16 to take control of the game.
“Our first quarter was outstanding,” VandenBerg said. “We pushed the ball in transition, and we were able to force a lot of turnovers with our half-court defense.
“But I think the kids looked at the scoreboard and thought the game would take care of itself, and we can’t have that mentality,” he said. “There are other teams who will get down and they will come back.”
The Bulldogs went on an 9-0 run in less than two minutes to start the second half as they forced turnovers and converted at the other end.
Hoover (0-6, 0-1) had scored 20 points in a game just once in the first five games. The Huskies made it a second time late in the fourth quarter against the continuous clock as Daija Bates hit a 3-pointer. Bates scored 10 points to lead the Huskies.
VandenBerg has been pleased with Bix’s play in the wake of some injuries. She equaled her point total from Tuesday against Fairfield.
“We always knew Kaylee could shoot the ball, but we didn’t know if she felt like that was her role,” he said. “We knew she could always attack the rim, but we’ve spent a lot of time on her 3-point shot in the summer. She’s really stepped up for us because she’s very versatile.
“She’s just a fighter.”
The Bulldogs (4-1, 1-0) visit eighth-ranked (Class 5A) Waukee Tuesday, then travel to Des Moines North Friday to round out the schedule before the Christmas break.