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Girls basketball: Bulldogs bounce back from rare loss

Feb. 6—OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa High School girls basketball team came within one quarter of a perfect run through a hectic week on the road.

Tied at 29-29 early in the fourth quarter at Des Moines Roosevelt on Friday, the 15th-ranked (5A) Bulldogs hoped they had just enough left to pull out what would have been one of the most impressive wins of the season. Not only would a win complete a regular-season sweep of the Roughriders, but would also move the Bulldogs to the brink of an outright Iowa Alliance Conference south division title while securing a fourth straight road win in the span of five days.

Ultimately, however, the gas tank ran dry on the Bulldogs in their 16th quarter of basketball of last week. Des Moines Roosevelt close out Friday's Iowa Alliance south showdown outscoring Ottumwa 13-5 over the final seven minutes, clinching a 42-34 win that snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Bulldogs.

"It was an outstanding effort by our girls to come back like they did in the second half," Ottumwa head girls basketball coach Joe Vandenberg said of Friday's contest. "You could definitely tell that was our fourth game in a week. We ran out of gas."

Nellie Morgan led Ottumwa against the Roughriders, scoring 13 points while battling in the post with Roosevelt junior Olivia Bailey, who challenged for a triple-double finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks against the Bulldogs. Camdyn Crouse, Ottumwa's leading scorer with 13.5 points a game, scored 12 points on Friday but finished hitting just four of 16 field goal attempts as the Bulldogs finished shooting just 20 percent from the field in the contest.

"We had great looks in the fourth quarter," Vandenberg said. "They just didn't fall."

Ottumwa came back rejuvenated on Monday, returning from a well-earned weekend off to put away a 50-17 win at Mount Pleasant. Alli Goedken set a new career-high for the Bulldogs as the freshman guard scored 19 points, sinking four of 10 from 3-point range, as Ottumwa's defense silenced the Panthers in the second quarter with an 18-0 shutout allowing Ottumwa to pull away after the Panthers pulled within 14-10 after one quarter.

"The girls played extremely well and executed on both ends of the court," Vandenberg said. "We like to start everything on the defensive end. This was another great example of that.

"Offensively, we had players step up and knock down shots. We made the extra passes when needed and played very unselfish basketball."

Ottumwa is now 14-3 overall and still in position to claim a share of the Iowa Alliance south title with Des Moines Roosevelt as both teams are 9-1 in the division having beaten each other on their respective home courts. The Bulldogs wrap up the regular season hosting Des Moines Lincoln, Ames and Des Moines East this week before opening Class 5A regional tournament play.

Being ranked 15th last week by the IGHSAU in Class 5A, Ottumwa is hopeful of hosting at least one regional tournament game next week. The Bulldogs have proven to be resilient winning their first seven games in a stretch of three weeks including tough road tests last week at Marshalltown and Centerville in which the Bulldogs had to overcome slow stretches offensively, including a surprising first quarter at Centerville in which the two-win Redettes built a 13-9 lead.

"We were preparing for both Centerville and Roosevelt knowing that we had to play (Roosevelt) the following night," Crouse said. "We wanted to run the ball in transition and guard the ball to the best of our abilities."

The gauntlet of games has tested the Bulldogs physically. Perhaps no one more so than Rylea Hinebaugh who suffered a shoulder injury late in the first half of last Monday's win at Des Moines East and returned to the court at Centerville on Thursday scoring five points while collecting three of Ottumwa's 14 steals off the bench.

"I tried to give it break (last Wednesday) so I could be ready for the team," Hinebaugh said. "I'm always here for my team when they need me. I try to bring the talkative side. I'm always cheering everyone on and trying to keep everyone energized."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.