Jaxsen Callaway had 17 points and nine rebounds in Otsego’s win over Three Rivers. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Bulldogs shake off slow start to cruise past Three Rivers

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

Even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
That line, adapted from a poem by Scottish poet Robert Burns, reminds us that, no matter how well prepared we might be, things don’t always go quite as planned.
Otsego boys’ basketball coach Matt Dennis knows that when this is the case, you have to be able to make adjustments on the fly.
“We had a few guys not feeling 100 percent and once again our rotation didn’t go as I planned,” Dennis said following his team’s Wolverine Conference non-divisional game at Three Rivers on Thursday, Feb. 6. “But the players did a great job adjusting, as they’ve done all year.”
The ability to make that adjustment resulted in an 80-63 victory for the Bulldogs that upped their overall record to 13-1 as their winning streak reached 11 straight.
“I think the depth of our team really showed tonight,” Dennis said.
As he has done throughout the season, senior Charlie Woodhams led the charge for Otsego, collecting a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds one game after reaching 1,000 career points. He also threw in six assists and four steals for good measure.
“Charlie isn’t a flashy player,” Dennis said. “He just makes plays when they present themselves. When I look at the scorebook at the end of the game, I’m always surprised by how many points he has.”
Fellow senior Jaxsen Callaway and sophomore Ashton Atwater joined Woodhams with double-figure-scoring games, as Callaway went for 17 points and Atwater had 16.
Callaway also had nine rebounds.
“I was really glad to see Jaxsen make the jump (in scoring),” Dennis said. “He has been more aggressive on offense and I think he is really hitting his stride. Ashton was a bit of a surprise. He wasn’t 100 percent and I played him limited minutes. He was still able to use his quickness to shift the defense and create offense for himself and his teammates.
“Overall, I thought the team shared the ball and hit the open man. Any time we can share the ball and knock down shots, we’ll be tough to beat.”
Three Rivers opened the game strong, leading 21-19 at the end of the opening quarter. Parker Ellifritz did the bulk of the damage for the Wildcats, knocking down three 3-pointers to go with four free throws and a layup for 15 of his team’s points in the first period.
The second quarter was a different story. Led by an improved effort on the defensive end, Otsego held a 26-11 advantage in the second stanza to take a 45-32 lead to halftime.
“Three Rivers came out strong, especially Ellifritz,” Dennis said. “In the second quarter, we adjusted our defense and didn’t allow Ellifritz to score.”
Otsego’s lead stood at 58-47 entering the final quarter, during which the Bulldogs outscored Three Rivers 22-16.
 

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