Otsego’s Owen Watson (left) drives to the basket in a recent game for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Gary Shook)

Strong defensive effort helps Bulldogs cruise past Melvindale

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

Otsego boys’ basketball coach Matt Dennis didn’t know exactly what to expect as his team prepared for its game against Melvindale Academy for Business and Tech as part of the Kalamazoo Central Showcase on Saturday, Jan. 4.
“We didn’t know anything about Melvindale, so I asked the guys to go in ready to adjust if needed,” Dennis said. “We did make a couple of small adjustments based on their personnel, but overall we wanted to be the aggressors and have them figure out how to handle our pressure.”
Mission accomplished.
After surrendering 14 points to Melvindale—which is located in the metro Detroit area—the Bulldogs limited the Gators to singles digits in each of the final three quarters en route to the 81-38 win.
The victory upped Otsego’s record to 6-1.
“We didn’t rebound the ball as well as I would have liked in the early part of the game, but we got better as the game went on not allowing them to get easy putbacks,” Dennis said.
Jaxsen Callaway was one of the defensive stalwarts for Otsego, leading with five steals to go with six rebounds and two blocks.
Callaway also dished out a team-best nine assists to go with seven points.
“Jaxsen does a little bit of everything and he does it well,” Dennis said. “He can make our team go without scoring a point or he can rebound and score to give us a spark. He doesn’t always have the highest numbers but he makes it possible for other guys to have great games with how well he sees the floor and delivers the ball to his teammates on offense.”
Speaking of offense, Charlie Woodhams once again led the way with 20 points to go with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Trae Knight wasn’t far behind, however, as he turned in an 18-point effort that included a four-for-four showing from 3-point range.
“Trae shot the ball well and had his best game of the year on offense,” Dennis said. “As Trae gets more comfortable with his role and his teammates, he plays better and better.”
And Knight didn’t just excel on one end of the court.
“The scorebook shows that he shot the ball well, but the thing I have been most pleased with is his defense,” Dennis said of Knight. “He is applying pressure, playing within the system and making it hard for teams to consistently make plays. His athleticism makes him ideal for the style of defense we want to play and it’s nice to see him getting into a groove on both ends of the floor.”
Otsego led 23-14 after one quarter and built on that lead in each of the next three periods, taking leads of 39-20 at halftime and 65-29 after three quarters.
The Bulldogs will have a bit of a break before playing their next game, as they travel to Edwardsburg on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
“We’re looking to improve the little things that will keep us playing at a high level,” Dennis said. “The players haven’t shown signs of being satisfied and they continue to work and push each other.
We face a good Edwardsburg team next who has only lost one game as well. For us to get the win we will need to fire on all cylinders.”
 

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