For about three quarters, the Ottumwa High School girls basketball team spent a lot of time chasing Des Moines Roosevelt.
When it was time to make a push, the Bulldogs ran out of time.
Roosevelt led by as many as 29 points in the second half, and clinched at least a tie for the CIML Metro title with a 63-52 win Thursday at Evans Middle School in a matchup of the top two teams in the league.
With the win, Roosevelt (10-8, 8-0 Metro) owns a two-game lead on the Bulldogs (11-6, 6-2) with two games to go, including another matchup next week.
“That team is fast and it’s hard to see it on film. They just got out and ran on us,” Ottumwa coach Joe VandenBerg said. “The also won every 50-50 ball tonight, and that’s difference-making.”
Roosevelt’s athleticism created all kind of problems not only on the perimeter but inside. The Roughriders forced some tough shots, but also made some clutch shots for three quarters. Ottumwa’s defense was slow to get back in transition, leading to some layups.
“You look at their team, and they’re guard-oriented, but they have posts who do a good job getting in position to open up the lane for them,” VandenBerg said. “The posts made good passes on some back cuts, a lot of things that don’t show up in the stat book.”
Despite taking an early lead, the Bulldogs went cold for stretches in the first half to allow the Roughriders to pull away. A 3-pointer by Kaylee Bix tied the game at nine, but Roosevelt answered with a 9-0 run while the Bulldogs went scoreless for over five minutes.
Then, the Bulldogs couldn’t get anything to fall in the second quarter, and scored just two points in the final 3:20 as the Roughriders got putbacks, driving layups and 3-pointers to take a 32-18 halftime lead.
Roosevelt’s 11-0 run to start the second half put the game away. Four layups, and a 3-pointer by Ke’Ayla Madison, turned the game into 43-18 rout. The Roughriders took a 51-22 lead on a three by Madison late in the third quarter.
“I really thought we made some good adjustments at halftime, but it took us two minutes into the second half to actually use them,” VandenBerg said. “We had to do it sooner. Roosevelt had too many easy looks tonight.”
Ottumwa finally found its game in the fourth by attacking the basket. Anne Guest came off the bench to score nine points in the second half, and scored six in a row late to get the deficit to 14. Kacy Nickerson hit a three and scored inside in the final minute for the final margin.
“I told the girls that fourth quarter was all about pride,” VandenBerg said. “We could either fold it up and lose by 40, or we could fight back. One thing our team has is drive.
“We all hate to lose,” VandenBerg said. “But if we’re going to lose, it’s going to be with our best effort.”
Alli Bookin-Nosbisch scored 12 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Trinity Cheatom scored 23 for the Roughriders.
Ottumwa hosts Des Moines East for Senior Night today.