Otsego’s Derek Ward (12) provides defensive pressure to Hamilton’s Brody DeWitt. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Otsego survives second-half scare from visiting Hamilton

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

Hosting Hamilton in a non-league contest on Tuesday, Dec. 18, the Otsego boys’ basketball led by 21 points early in the third quarter and ended up winning by 15 points.
That doesn’t mean the same was without its share of drama.
A torrid scoring run by Hamilton cut the Bulldogs’ lead to six points with six minutes left to play before Otsego regrouped to post the 68-55 victory.
The outcome left the Bulldogs perfect on the season at 6-0.
“Tonight’s game was a battle of staying focused and handling Hamilton’s run in the second half,” Otsego coach Matt Dennis said. “I have to give a lot of credit to (the Hawkeyes). They came in with a great game plan and they were ready to match our intensity tonight. A couple of times I had to remind our players to stay focused and play stronger, quicker and with more intensity than the other team.
“I thought we did a good job of remaining focused and doing those things, especially when Hamilton made their run at us in the third quarter.”
A balanced scoring attack was a key for Otsego, as four Bulldogs scored in double figures.
Addison Atwater led the charge, scoring 21 points. Fifteen of those points came on a 5-of-9 shooting effort from behind the 3-point arc.
Jordan Ross was next with 17 points, followed by Charlie Woodhams with 13 points and Owen Watson with 10 points.
Atwater also had five rebounds to match Ross for third on the team behind Jaxsen Callaway’s eight and Watson’s six.
“Addi shot well again which helps and Jordan was huge on the inside,” Dennis said. “They didn’t have an answer for his post play, in my opinion.”
Otsego started the game strong, outscoring the Hawkeyes 17-10 after one quarter. The Bulldogs led 39-21 at halftime.
“We knew coming into the game that they were a talented team,” first-year Hamilton coach Nick Kronemeyer said. “In the first half they sped us up and turned us over a lot, which led to 21-point deficit after the first possession of the third quarter.”
Both teams found themselves in some early foul trouble.
“We haven’t had a game called like that all year,” Dennis said. “We want to play fast and aggressive. Tonight’s game didn’t allow us to do that consistently with the number of fouls that were called on both teams. I think it may have messed both teams up a bit because of all the stop and go. It was hard to find a rhythm.”
Hamilton finally found its rhythm in the third quarter, going on a run that extended into the fourth frame as the Hawkeyes pulled to within six points.
But that’s as close as the score would get as the Bulldogs managed to pull away.
“I’m proud of the kids for battling back and continuing to believe in the ups and downs of the game,” Kronemeyer said. “Once we got it down to six, we couldn’t get over the hump.
“We are learning how to compete with good basketball teams, but before we can beat good basketball teams we need to understand the importance of every single possession for four quarters.”
Brad Osbourne led Hamilton with 19 points and 10 points. Jaden Groenheide added 10 points.
“I thought we did a great job of managing the clock at the end of the game and knocking down free throws to keep us on top,” Dennis said. “We learned a lot about ourselves in tonight’s game.”
 

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