Strong showing at charity stripe lifts Otsego to win
It’s been said the best things in life are free.
You aren’t likely to get an argument from Otsego boys’ basketball coach Matt Dennis in that regard following his team’s game against host Marshall on Thursday, Dec. 28.
The Bulldogs got to the free throw line 45 times against the Red Hawks. More importantly, Otsego connected on 39 of those attempts, good for an 87-percent success rate as it posted the 80-60 victory.
“It’s hard to beat a team that shoots as many free throws as we did,” Dennis said. “It’s almost impossible to beat a team that makes more than 80 percent of those shots.”
Charlie Woodhams led the charge at the charity stripe, making good on all 14 of his attempts. Will Eldred was close behind, going 12-of-12 from the line.
Woodhams finished with a game-best 23 points, while Eldred checked in with 18 points.
“Charlie and Will were impressive,” Dennis said.
According to Dennis, the number of free throw attempts Otsego was able to accumulate was a direct result of the game play the Bulldogs had coming into the game.
That game plan? Be aggressive.
“Our game plan was one of being the aggressors and making Marshall have to work on both ends of the floor,” Dennis said. “That really paid off for us. Marshall ended up getting a little frustrated and ended up receiving four technical fouls. This frustration led to more fouls and gave us even more foul shots.”
The win was the first fourth in a row for the Bulldogs, raising their overall record to 5-1.
“We were able to pull out our fourth win in a row against a very good Marshall team tonight, which says a lot about this team,” Dennis said. “I’m proud of how my guys played. We were undersized by several inches, we were playing an undefeated team and we were on their home court.
“For us to step up and play well under these circumstances was great to see.”
Despite the game’s final margin, the score remained close throughout much of the contest. In fact, Marshall held a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and Otsego led by a slim 31-28 margin heading to halftime.
The Bulldogs’ advantage stood at 49-43 at the end of three quarters.
“With that three-point lead at the end of the first half, I thought we were in for a dog fight in the second half,” Dennis said. “While Marshall did play us tough, their frustration got to them a little in the fourth quarter.”
In that final stanza, Otsego outscored Marshall 31-17 to pull away.
Jason Weber added 10 points for the Bulldogs to join Woodhams and Eldred in double figures in the scoring column. Addison Atwater went for nine points, while Jaxsen Callaway added seven points.
Eldred snagged six rebounds to lead the team in that category, with Atwater leading the way with five assists.
Jack Luciani scored 18 points to pace Marshall, followed by Wyatt Crow and Jack Crull with points each.
The Bulldogs won’t return to the court until Tuesday, Jan. 9, when they head to Edwardsburg for a Wolverine Conference showdown with the Eddies, giving Otsego nearly two weeks between games.