PLANO – After a tough Interstate Eight Conference loss Wednesday at Rochelle, the Ottawa Pirates knew they needed to rebound both literally and figuratively as they faced another challenging road game 48 hours later.
The Pirates did just that, bouncing back by outrebounding, outshooting and outdistancing another league foe, host Plano, to the tune of a 62-52 triumph Friday evening at Reaper Gymnasium.
Ottawa owned the boards with a 35-22 advantage, where 6-foot-5 senior center Braiden Miller grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds and scored 12 points to help lead the Pirates to the impressive improvement after falling flat two days earlier.
“I’d been sick before the Rochelle game and still played, but felt much better tonight with a lot of energy going in against Plano,” Miller said. “I had 14 points and 12 rebounds vs. Rochelle, but fewer points and more rebounds against Plano feels so much better after a big win like this for our team.”
Miller received some fine help from classmates Luke Cushing, who tallied a team-leading 16 points, and Anthony Miller, who tossed in 15 points as Ottawa (9-6, 3-2 I-8) produced a great night on offense, hitting 24 of 44 shots (55%).
“We had a comfortable working margin most of the night, and I thought our kids battled hard after the loss to Rochelle and found a way to earn a solid conference win against a tough Plano team,” Ottawa coach Mark Cooper said.
“Braiden is a presence and is a big part of what we’re doing and what we’re going to do moving forward. Tonight he was dominant on the boards, and I also felt Anthony Miller played the best he’s played in a while. He was very efficient offensively.
“We’re just happy to get out of here with a win and bouncing back after Wednesday’s loss.”
Plano (8-7, 2-3) got a game-high 18 points from senior Mason Accidentale and 15 points off the hands of senior Josh Padilla. But the Reapers couldn’t combat the board play of Braiden Miller and company while hitting 20 of 50 shots (40%).
“I just felt we were flat, didn’t have much energy and for most of the night were just struggling to score,” Plano coach Kyle Kee said. “Other than Mason and Josh, we’ve been kind of limited offensively all year, and against a fine defensive team like Ottawa, when you don’t rebound well and you can’t connect offensively when you need to, things will be tough.
“[Braiden Miller] was a monster in there for them tonight, and we just didn’t step up to the challenge against a very tough basketball team.”
Ottawa led 19-12 after one period, as Anthony Miller nailed a right-wing 3-pointer with three seconds to go in the quarter that helped put the visitors into a good space entering the second quarter.
There the Pirates extended the lead to 35-25 at halftime, as Braiden Miller put in a layup with 35 seconds to go, and junior Levi Sheehan hit a left baseline basket right before the horn as Ottawa took the 10-point lead into the locker room.
The Reapers countered midway through the third quarter, cutting the gap to 39-35 after a 10-4 rally that culminated in Accidentale’s layup off a steal at 3:55. The Pirates responded in kind by embarking on a 9-0 run that ended the quarter, when senior Javarius Whitfield grabbed a rebound off a Cushing miss and scored an easy putback at the buzzer to give Ottawa a 48-35 advantage with eight minutes left.
Padilla tallied 11 points in the final quarter, including three 3-pointers, but the Reapers could get no closer than eight, as Anthony Miller netted six points and Braiden Miller concluded his double-double night with five.