Otsego sophomore Ashton Atwater (left) tries to work around Plainwell senior Nick Tiller. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Strong second half sends Bulldogs past Plainwell

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

With his team locked in a tight battle with archrival Plainwell in the opening round of Division 2 boys’ district action, Otsego coach Matt Dennis had some advice for his team at halftime.
“I told the guys they needed to get more aggressive defensively and to start taking shots on the offensive end,” he said. “For whatever reason, I thought we were a little passive out there on both ends of the floor and we needed to pick up the intensity.”
Apparently, the message got through loud and clear.
Up by six points at halftime, the Bulldogs opened the third quarter on a 10-3 scoring run that included two baskets following steals. That set the tone for the remainder of the game as Otsego went on to claim the 78-57 win.
The scoring run to start the third quarter included 3-pointers from Jakson Dentler and Jaxsen Callaway.
“After the first half, I just wanted the guys to refocus on what had gotten us here in the first place,” Dennis said. “We had to get back to what had helped us go 19-1 in the regular season. I thought we did a much better job of that in the second half.”
Charlie Woodhams led the Otsego charge with 26 points. Ashton Atwater added 14 points, while Dentler and Owen Watson had 11 each to go with 10 from Callaway.
“That’s a great team over there,” Plainwell coach Dan Klein said. “They’ve been a dynasty for a long time, they’re well coached and they have a perfectly constructed roster. We gave it our best shot.”
In the first half, Plainwell gave the Bulldogs everything they could handle.
In fact, the Trojans led 13-11 following a basket by Reece Comerford with less than two minutes to play in the opening stanza before Otsego scored the period’s final four points on baskets from Callaway and Atwater.
A basket from Levi Betz enabled the Trojans to knot the score at 17-17, but the Bulldogs used a pair of scoring runs—the first 9-3 and the second 9-2—to push their lead to double digits at 35-25. Otsego settled for a 38-32 halftime edge.
“I thought we had a really good scheme and did a good job of executing in the first half,” Klein said. “We shot the ball as well as we have all season in that half. We just couldn’t sustain it. And that was our motto heading into the game. Thirty-two minutes. That’s what we needed and we couldn’t quite get it.”
Dennis wasn’t surprised that Plainwell put up such a fight in the opening half.
“This is the third time we’ve played each other and it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season,” he said. “We knew they’d come out fired up and ready to go. We just had to match their intensity and effort level.”
 

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