Boys finish on wrong end of roller-coaster game
Winners of three-straight prior to Friday night's games, one might think moral victories were a thing of the past for the De Soto boys' basketball team.
Still Wildcat coach Jim Bonar said it was just hard to feel too terrible following De Soto's heart stopping 68-67 home loss to Ottawa.
"A loss is always hard," Bonar said. "But I told them if we won the game, as excited as I'd be, I'd feel bad for Ottawa because they played their hearts out too."
The Cyclones won a thriller in De Soto, pulling out the game in truly the last second.
De Soto sophomore Andre Linzy put the Cats up by one, 67-66, sinking a baseline floater from five feet out with 36.2 second remaining.
Ottawa found time to answer, however. Addison Miller put his team back on top with 11.8 ticks left and De Soto couldn't reply in the games final seconds.
"They made plays and we made plays," Bonar said. "It was a fun game to be involved in all the way around."
De Soto's fun didn't start with the opening tip. Ottawa rushed to a 22-14 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 12-4 run that whipped out an early De Soto lead and left the Cats grasping for help by the second quarter.
Help they found. Senior Scott McElvain led De Soto with 24 points, but sophomore Jake Morse sparked the comeback in the second.
Morse canned his first 3-pointer of the game right out of the gate in the second period. Ottawa extended the lead as far as seven again, but another Morse trey cut it to four.
De Soto went into the half down by six, but rallying for the first-quarter hole left the team inspired, Bonar said.
"We put it on the board and said 'Six points. What is that?,'" Bonar said. "We gave up one where they just outran us down the court and we didn't turn around and look fast enough. There was a weak rebound we didn't go after hard enough. Then it's down to a two-point ballgame and if we could get a couple stops and grab a couple rebounds, we'd be right back in it."
It looked almost that easy in the second half.
De Soto roared first to tie the game, 43-43, on a Morse jumper, then to grab the lead seconds later thanks to a Cory McElvain 3-pointer.
"We hit a couple shots, got some stops and all of the sudden, we're ahead," Bonar said.
And not only were they ahead, soon they were way ahead. Scott McElvain, good in the first half, played even better in the second, scoring 12 points. De Soto had a four-point lead by the end of the third quarter, but led by as many as nine, 56-47.
Ottawa answered with a rally of its own, tying the game at 59 and the teams stayed knotted inside the late minute.
McElvain scored twice to cut into a late five-point Ottawa lead, setting up Linzy's bucket, but De Soto couldn't generate a defensive stop when it counted.
It appeared the Cats would have one last chance when McElvain drew a foul with 2.3 seconds remaining, but De Soto wasn't in the bonus yet and couldn't score after passing the ball in.
"The kids got down early. We had a good comeback and got ahead, but Ottawa's a ballteam and there's a reason they're ranked in the state," Bonar said.
Afterward, Bonar couldn't help but smile a little about the close call. With a big game looming Friday against Osawatomie -- the Trojans beat De Soto 73-64 before the winter break -- Bonar said he's seeing plenty of opportunity for his team to pull a few more surprises.
"That's what I really have seen in practice. It's guys making plays all the time," he said. "It's those times when they realize that they're out here to play and they realize that they can play and they can compete. I don't think that spirit's been here for a while and the guys are just pumped up. You can see it in their eyes. They're not scared. They're not backing down.
"We weren't expected to be here playing with (Ottawa) and we were. We're going to beat some people that don't expect it."