Never take a lead for granted, especially against a winless ball club.
The Des Moines East Scarlets have not won a game this season in 10 tries.
That statistic doesn’t hold much weight in Class 4A basketball, where almost any squad can get knocked off on any given night.
Give Scarlet head coach Jamel Crawford credit for keeping his East squad in this game on Tuesday night versus the Ottumwa boys basketball team.
Crawford’s bunch almost pulled off an upset, but the resurgent Bulldogs closed late for a 51-44 win at Evans Middle School.
Ottumwa (5-4, 3-2) was fresh off of one of the better Bulldog wins in years — a 31-29 victory over Des Moines Hoover last Friday.
The CIML Metro tussle looked like it would be a laugher early as the Bulldogs raced out to a 21-4 lead. Ottumwa was red hot in the first quarter, nailing 9-13 field goals.
Ottumwa led 31-16 at intermission. The final points of the second quarter were scored by OHS junior forward Faith Pope, who banked in his first 3-point make of the season with three seconds left before the break.
Pope finished with 28 points on 13-of-18 shooting and at times seemed dominant down low.
East (0-10, 0-5) showed they’ve got plenty of heart.
Leandre Glover’s jumper capped a 14-4 East run with 55 seconds remaining in the third. Ottumwa led just 35-30 at that juncture of the contest.
“The more confident they became, then it became tougher for us,” said Ottumwa head coach Chris Gravett.
Bulldog junior Austin Walker’s 3-pointer bounced Ottumwa’s lead back up to eight on the ensuing possession. That was the lead entering the fourth.
East wasn’t done yet.
Simon Joseph’s make near the blocks trimmed Ottumwa’s lead to 40-37 with 4:45 remaining. Erik Thorgaard’s two free throws and Ben Kramer’s bucket gave Ottumwa a little breathing room, Ottumwa still in charge up 44-37 with four minutes before the final buzzer sounded.
East threw a slew of defensive fronts at Ottumwa that had the Bulldogs confused at times.
“We knew coming into the game they were going to throw a lot of defenses at us,” said Gravett. “Sometimes that takes your aggressiveness away because you start thinking about what it is you’re doing rather than just playing.”
Travis Cavan’s deep 3-pointer proved East still had a little gas left in the tank, trailing 44-40 with 3:40 left on the clock. Cavan would strike again to slice it down to four (46-42), but Walker’ jumper bounced it back up to a six-point cushion on the next Bulldog possession.
With 45 seconds left, Ottumwa worked the ball around the perimeter to perfection and found Pope on the blocks, who flushed down the remaining points of his offensive masterpiece with another one of his many dunks this season. That score wouldn’t change after that backbreaker.
Needless to say, it wasn’t Ottumwa’s finest outing of the season, but a win nonetheless.
“We did some things tonight that I’ve never seen us do – like random throws out of bounds, dribbling off your foot. Little things like that, that we haven’t done all year. Sometimes those things seem to snowball,” said Gravett.
Kramer ended up with 10 points and East was led by Cavan’s 17 points.
Ottumwa travels to Des Moines Lincoln in the Roundhouse on Friday.
Ottumwa 51, Des Moines East 44
DML 4 12 14 14 — 44
OTT 19 12 7 13 — 51
Des Moines East (44) — Travis Cavan 6-14 2-5 17, Brandon Long 4-10 0-0 8, Leandre Glover 2-3 4-5 8, Malique Ziegler 1-8 2-2 4, Bedipeny Wom 1-5 0-0 3, Simon Joseph 1-1 0-0 2, DaVontae Buckner 1-1 0-0 2, Billie Hernandez 0-2 0-0 0, Xavier James 0-3 0-0 0, Zakk Dunn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-47 8-12 44.
3-point goals — 4-17 (Cavan 3, Wom). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — 23 (Long 8, Glover 5). Steals — 8 (James 4). Total fouls — 15. Turnovers — 13.
Ottumwa (51) — Faith Pope 13-18 1-3 28, Ben Kramer 4-10 1-4 10, Austin Walker 3-7 0-0 7, Erik Thorgaard 1-5 2-2 4, Nick Allen 1-3 0-0 2, Carter Burns 0-4 0-0 0, Mitch Hardie 0-0 0-0 0, Kyle Keck 0-0 0-0 0, Adam VanFleet 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-47 4-9 51.
3-point goals — 3-12 (Pope, Kramer, Walker). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — 25 (Pope 9, Walker 5, Kramer 4). Steals — 4 (Pope 2, Thorgaard 2). Total fouls — 16. Turnovers — 17.
Never take a lead for granted, especially against a winless ball club.
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