Atwater sets Otsego assist record in victory over Allegan
Since taking over as Otsego boys’ basketball coach prior to the 2016-17 season, Matt Dennis has preached the importance of unselfish, team-oriented play.
It’s a message senior Addison Atwater and his teammates have clearly bought into.
In the closing minutes of the first half of the Bulldogs’ makeup game against Allegan on Monday, Feb. 4, Atwater recorded his 295th career assist to set a new school record.
That milestone highlighted a 71-36 win over the visiting Tigers and kept Otsego perfect on the season at 15-0.
“We’re an unselfish team and Addi is the perfect example of that,” Dennis said. “He’s always looking to get his teammates involved, as are the rest of the guys. This record is a credit to Addi for getting the ball to his teammates and to his teammates for being able to finish those plays.”
Atwater finished the game with four assists to go with eight points. That point total put him fourth on the team as the Bulldogs had yet another balanced scoring effort that saw 10 players find their way into the scoring column.
Charlie Woodhams led the way with 15 points to go with six rebounds, while Owen Watson had 13 points to go with five rebounds. Jayden Dentler added 12 points, Josh Ross had six and Will Eldred had five.
“It seems like I’m saying the same thing after every game, but this group is all about the team and doing whatever they have to do to make the team successful,” Dennis said. “A lot of these guys could score more than they do, but they’re willing to sacrifice some personal success for the good of the team.”
The Bulldogs set the tone for the game early, getting baskets from Atwater, Woodhams and Watson to go up 6-0 just one minute, 11 seconds into the game. That prompted Allegan coach Jeff Turner to call a timeout in an effort to slow down Otsego’s momentum.
But the Bulldogs picked up where they left off prior to the timeout, scoring the next 10 points to take a 16-0 lead before Allegan got on the scoreboard courtesy of a basket from Riley Scofield. Otsego’s advantage stood at 27-5 after one quarter and 46-16 at halftime.
Given that early lead, Dennis was able to get all of the players on his roster playing time throughout the game.
“On this team, every player gives great effort every day,” Dennis said. “As a coach, you love to see that, but it also makes it difficult in that every player deserves a chance to play, but not all of them are going to be able to get as much playing time as I’d like them to simply because we have 14 players on the roster and only five can play at a time.
“That it’s a great problem to have and these guys understand what’s going on. I know they want to be out there and they know I’ll get them as many opportunities as a can.”
The second half was better for Allegan, which was only outscored 25-20 and held a 11-10 edge in the fourth quarter.
Caleb DeKryger paced Allegan with 11 points, followed by Ezra Butcher with eight and Chris Ohst with five.