OTTAWA – A team playing at a comfortable level is a dangerous thing, which is why the Ottawa boys and girls basketball teams pushed the tempo and got out to fast starts Friday night to make sure their counterparts from Plano would get nowhere close to that level of calm or flow, especially at the very start.
In the first contest, the Pirates got nine points from Grace Carroll and five from Marlie Orlandi to race out to an 18-9 first-quarter lead, then kept adding on for a 57-22, running-clock victory over the Reapers.
Then in the nightcap, seven points from Payton Knoll and four from Connor Price led Ottawa to a commanding 19-6 advantage off the opening tip, then Ottawa kept rolling to a 59-48 decision that was not as close as the final score might indicate.
Ottawa 57, Plano 22
Ottawa’s girls (7-2, 3-0) used their defense to force Plano into nine turnovers in the first period and 10 more in the second to burst into the lead. Going up-tempo and pushing the ball on the break at every opportunity, it was almost like a full-court layup drill at times with Carroll doing much of the damage. She finished with all 14 of her points in the half as the Pirates expanded that first-period lead to 34-14 on a 3-pointer by Morgan Stone.
The running clock started on a bucket by Orlandi, the first of seven straight points that took the lead to 54-20. She finished with 16 points, and Kendall Lowery 10.
“When Grace goes, we go, and fortunately for us she doesn’t stop going very often,” Ottawa coach Brent Moore said. “She’s on the go all the time, and when she pushes us into transition, everything else just falls into place.
“We know this was a game where our No. 1 key was to keep them to one-and-done and push the ball in transition. We were able to do the latter in the first half when we didn’t rebound very well – they had 13 offensive rebounds in the half, only three in the second – so in the second half we executed both of those very nicely.”
Plano’s Mikayla Walls matched Woodhouse with a team-best eight points and also hauled in 11 rebounds for the Reapers (6-4, 1-2).
“We knew Ottawa wanted to run like that, and they’re super aggressive on defense and very well-coached,” Plano coach Tristan Spivey said. “Normally we’re a running team as well, but we’d had back-to-back games the last two nights, so coming in tonight, we knew our legs would be tired. That was OK when Mikayla was hitting her shots and Ryssa was doing a good job of getting her the ball, but it was a little too late.
“Ottawa’s a great team, and while I liked our effort, we’re not at that level yet to guard them for a whole game.”
Ottawa 59, Plano 48
It was a challenging style of Ottawa defense that initially knocked the young Reapers off early in the boys headliner.
Five early Plano turnovers and a couple of opening-period treys from Payton Knoll made it 10-2. After the visitors got a pair of Christ Keleba baskets to get within 11-6, Ottawa posted the next eight points on fast break lay-ins by Huston Hart, Levi Sheehan, Price and Aiden Mucci.
Ottawa (3-4, 2-1) kept the pressure on and slowly pulled away — a steal and two tosses by Sheehan with 3:15 left in the third taking the home edge to 45-21, the largest of the night.
Knoll ended up with 17 points, Price 11, Sheehan nine and Mucci eight for the Pirates.
“We were able to play in transition a good amount in the first half, and that gave us some separation,” said Ottawa coach Mark Cooper. “We did that because we rebounded better. You can’t run in transition if you’re not rebounding, so being more competitive on the boards helped us. And while we struggled with a couple of things defensively, overall we were pretty solid. … They didn’t shoot particularly well early. If they hit a few of those, we don’t get that separation.
“We needed those early [Knoll] points. We haven’t been a very good first-quarter team at home this year, so it was nice to get off to a better start.”
Kaleb Videckis was the only Reaper in double digits with 11. Keleba finished with eight points and a team-high nine rebounds for Plano (2-6, 1-2), which shot a chilly 32.7% (18 of 55) from the field.
“We just had a tough time getting loose balls tonight. We seemed just a step slow on everything,” Plano coach Kyle Kee said. “We’re young and inexperienced, and to come in here, a tough place to play, and not have a very good start, that really put us down. We didn’t shoot the ball well, and while we’ve had nights we’ve showed we can shoot, other nights we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. It doesn’t help that Ottawa does everything right defensively.
“Everything is hard for us right now. Every time we do something really right, we miss a loose ball or something happens that keeps things not going our way.”