OTTAWA – Chanute High School’s sub-state bid ended Wednesday night.
The Cyclones turned the tables after a 50-36 loss to Chanute a year ago.
Ottawa’s Kobe Johnson taking advantage of easy layups set up by crisp ball rotation was the theme that ultimately put Ottawa High School in the second round of the Kansas State High School Activities Association Class 4A East Sub-State No. 4 playoffs.
In a frenetic pace that galvanized dozens of Ottawa basketball fans, No. 13 seeded Chanute fell victim to the No. 4 Cyclones 66-36 at Ottawa High School on Wednesday night. The CHS basketball players scrambled on defense in an effort to stifle Johnson and the other shooters, but to no avail. The Cyclones did everything they could to seek retribution for last year’s 50-36 loss in the first round of the 2019 sub-state playoffs.
The Blue Comets tried to make a formidable comeback – CHS already found themselves down 36-16 by halftime – but that effort wound up into statistics associated with a loss, which promptly ended the Chanute season. Senior guard Tye Coombs led the way with 15 points, while senior forward Ty Bowman put up 10 points and three rebounds.
Chanute head coach Devon Crabtree said the game plan was to make Ottawa shoot the ball even more than usual.
“We wanted to try and play our zone, obviously, and just keep them out of the paint because we knew they could make some shots, but we thought somehow if we could make them shoot jumpers that they’re not used to, then we have an advantage. They knocked some down, but we still weren’t able to keep them out of the paint,” Crabtree said. “They just do a really good job of finding gaps in the zone and making layups.”
In the first quarter, Ottawa went on a 16-5 run due to the jumper. Ottawa’s senior Cade Gollier hit his team’s first two 3s of the game, followed up with efficient passing in the middle of the paint that led to layups. Only junior Garrett Almond and Bowman scored in that first quarter, as Almond nailed two free throws, and Bowman knocked down a contested 3.
But this 16-5 run was a microcosm of the entire game. The outcome was Ottawa hitting five total 3s, with Gollier knocking down three and senior Alex Quillen sticking two.
Gap passing in the middle and consistent post-ups led to Johnson using his 6’5” height to hit point-blank layups, whether by a perfectly run offense or a broken play, though the All-Frontier league player looked to be taller than Bowman, who is also listed as 6’5”.
Soon the Blue Comets were down 49-25 after Johnson muscled up an easy basket after the Cyclones dribbled out around 45 seconds at the end of the third.
Seventh-year head Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough, though, focused on defense for CHS’ dribble-drive, weave and motion offenses, which often turned into good offense on the other end for the Cyclones.
“I think the biggest thing is we switched everything instead of fighting through any kind of screening or anything. We just switched it. Early in the first half, that kept them out in front of us, and we did a really good job of being in the gaps,” McCullough said. “You got to keep them out of the lane, and that was our goal, and I thought we did a really good job. Our other player, Reis Moore, did a great job of finding an open spot in the zone and we did a great job of getting him the ball and I think he did a really good job tonight for this offense.
“And then we knocked down some shots and that’s the key. If you can knock down some shots, it makes life so much easier.”
Johnson, a senior, had a game-high 17 points, four rebounds and two steals, while Moore had 14 points and Gollier scored 10 points, dished out three assists and had a steal.
The Cyclones efficient production – Ottawa hit 68 percent of their shots compared to the Blue Comets’ 43 percent – was mixed up with taking care of the ball. Ottawa turned the ball over five times versus Chanute’s 15. When taking into consideration the number of times Chanute turned the ball over, combined with Ottawa hitting their last nine shots of the game, the outcome for the Blue Comets seemed unavoidable.
Also inevitable was for Coombs to give it his all in his last high school game, despite the circumstances.
“My role for the team was just going out for the team and playing my hardest, defensively being better and locking up the best players on the court on the opposite team and just keeping my team together and positive,” Coombs said, adding that he will now play travel ball and decide on his basketball future from there.
Chanute’s basketball program will also make a transition, as Peyton Beck, AJ Bollig, Bowman, Josh Slansky and Briley Peavy will all be graduating.
“The positives are we have a young group,” Crabtree noted. “You got Garrett returning, you got Shan (Williams), all guys that played significant minutes all year long, so we are excited about that, and just hope to continue to move forward and grow with those guys, and hope some other guys step up along the way. The positives are there because they got better all year long. We are excited about that.”