Wildcats top undefeated Ottawa to end losing skid
The De Soto girls basketball team escaped with a 43-41 win Friday at Ottawa as golden opportunities fell astray for the Cyclones in their quest to remain unbeaten.
Ottawa missed a flurry of point-blank shots late in the game as they tried to rally from an eight-point second-half deficit before falling to the Wildcats 43-41 at Ottawa.
De Soto's pressure defense down low was the difference as the Wildcats broke a three-game skid with the win that evened their record at 3-3.
Still, Wildcats coach Dwight Spencer felt somewhat lucky to escape with the two-point triumph.
"Absolutely we feel fortunate," the coach said. "But they were taking those shots under pressure. Give my kids credit. They played hard. But, yeah, they did have plenty of opportunities."
The Cyclones, who made just 6-of-21 shots from the field in the final period, at times had two or three attempts from under the basket before the Wildcats could clear the rebound. Ottawa hauled in seven offensive rebounds in the game's final eight minutes.
Twice late in the game, Ottawa appeared to make the go-ahead field goals, but a charging call and a timeout called by the Cyclone bench nullified those baskets.
One Cyclone who had a hot hand early in the final period was Kelsie Studley, who had a game-high 19 points. The 6-foot senior scored three straight baskets to cut the Wildcat advantage to 35-34 with five minutes, 24 seconds left in the contest.
"She's a heck of a player for them," Spencer said. "She scored very well for them down low."
But Studley, too, cooled down the stretch as the Wildcats put the clamps on the Cyclone offense by contesting every shot.
Ottawa's leading scorer, Megan Ramsey, was limited to six points against the tenacious Wildcat defense. But the 5-9 junior stepped up with 21 seconds left and knocked down half of those points on a 3-pointer that narrowed De Soto's advantage to 42-41.
"They're a very good shooting team," Spencer said. "We knew that we'd give up a 3-pointer or two. The girls did a good job of playing defense and holding on at the end."
Ramsey had an opportunity to steal the win from De Soto with two seconds left, but her 3-point attempt missed, and Wildcat sophomore Jackie Goleman ripped down the rebound.
Goleman was fouled with 1.9 seconds left and made the first of two free throws, bringing the score to its final margin.
The first period saw several lead changes, but it was the Wildcats who took control late and forged out to a 14-9 advantage.
Ottawa rallied behind Studley's seven points in the second period's first 3:28 and tied the score at 16. Amy Petty and Kira Gonzalez, who combined for all 11 Wildcat points in the period, helped De Soto surge back out in front with a little more than 2 minutes left in the game's opening half. Gonzalez scored six straight De Soto points in the 6-3 run.
Ottawa's Caitlin Smith connected on a pair of free throws with 43 seconds left in the half, cutting the Cyclone deficit to 25-21 at intermission.
The Wildcats held Ottawa scoreless for nearly six minutes during a stretch in the third period. De Soto, meanwhile, scored six points to build a 33-25 advantage. A 3-pointer by the Cyclones Jill Spratt narrowed the deficit to five points going into the final quarter.
Besides Studley and Ramsey's combined 25 points, Smith added six points and Jara Vance contributed five points.
Petty connected on three 3-pointers for De Soto. Ramsey made two shots from beyond the arc, while Vance and Spratt connected on one 3-pointer each.
The Wildcats made just four of 11 shots from the free-throw line, while Ottawa connected on only three of 10.