But over the next six minutes the Pirates took over.
Ottawa put together a game-changing 19-0 run spanning the first and second quarters which helped the hosts eventually post a solid 60-44 triumph over the Indians at Kingman Gymnasium.
“It was good to see us get off to a fast start and take control of the game early,” Ottawa coach Mark Cooper said. “I thought throughout we played hard and did some really good things for a first game. We saw some things that we will need to clean up, like some of our defensive fundamentals weren’t where they need to be.
“But I also thought we did a really good job of scoring in the paint when we had the opportunities, and we took good shots for the most part. When you take good shots that only makes your defensive transition stronger.”
The balanced Pirates attack was led by junior Cooper Knoll’s 13-point, 10-rebound, double-double. Senior Payton Knoll added 12 points. six rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocked shots. Levi Sheehan posted 10 points and a pair of steals, while Huston Hart chipped in nine points and three steals and Aiden Mucci seven points and seven rebounds.
“Cooper has come a long way,” coach Cooper said. “He’s a skilled big man who is going to play physical and finish at the rim. We’ll need more nights like tonight from him moving forward.”
Marengo was paced by Riley Weiss, who netted a game-high 16 points and grabbed a team-best eight rebounds, while Patrick Signore had 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc.
“I’m extremely pleased that we kept fighting until the very end,” Marengo coach Adam Webb said. “When it was 25-4 there early in the second quarter and playing Ottawa on their home floor with a nice crowd on hand, we could have packed in. We are a young team, many of the kids we had take the floor tonight this was their first varsity minutes. We also don’t have a lot of height, which is OK, but that means we have to do an extra better job of boxing out. I felt like along with the run they had there in the first half, rebounding was another key in the outcome.”
Payton Knoll’s layup with 4 minutes, 56 seconds left on the first-quarter clock began the aforementioned burst and his scoop score in traffic with 7:04 remaining in the second closed the run. In between, Hart and Sheehan picked up consecutive steals and scores, with Cooper Knoll converting an and-1.
Ottawa, which shoot 60% from the floor in the first half and 46% for the game, outrebound Marengo 36-20.
The Pirates led 43-16 at halftime and 55-31 heading to the fourth,
The Indians, which shot just 30% from the floor in the opening 16 minutes and 35% for the contest held their own after the break, outscoring the Pirates 28-17.
“We talked at halftime about resetting our goal to winning the second half and we did that,” Webb said. “Riley Weiss, who is one of the few guys we have back with experience, I thought did a good job of staying cool, calm and collected which in turn helped the other guys do the same.”
Ottawa is back in action on Tuesday taking on tournament newcomer Thornridge at 6:30 p.m. in another Pool A, while Marengo plays Pontiac in the night’s first game at 5 p.m.
Prior to Ottawa’s victory, La Salle-Peru dropped a heart-breaking 48-46 decision to Oak Forest in Pool B action.