Although it was not a work of art, the No.1 seed Ottawa Pirates rode the strong second-half play of 6-5 senior John Carroll to victory over the No. 8 seed Seneca by a score of 61-43 at the Plano tournament. Ottawa will meet Aurora Christian in the semifinals.
The Pirates didn't use their height advantage, but settled for jump shots and three-point attempts well into the second quarter. Keating Rombach and Jacob Draper dropped in threes in the second, but the Ottawa man-defense stifled the Fighting Irish and staked the Pirates to a 22-8 lead with 3:16 remaining in the first half.
“We played more as individual parts in the first half,” said Ottawa coach Dave Wultzen. “The ball wasn't moving and we didn't get the types of touches we wanted in the paint, so we settled for a lot of early possession threes.”
Things became more competitive as Seneca caught fire and scored 10 straight points in the two minutes before intermission, led by Alex Bott.
Bott and Carter Gallick each converted an Ottawa turnover into a basket, and Bott and Conlan Callahan scored within seven seconds to get the Fighting Irish to within 22-18 at the half.
“We had nothing to lose, and I knew we had to start somewhere. I started going to the hoop and doing anything I could to get points,” said Bott.
The Pirates used their size more effectively in the second half as Carroll (game-high 19 points) and Codu Stokes (11 points) scored on layups, but Carroll and Chase Hill also drained threes early in the fourth.
Bott, who finished with 12 points, continued to lead Seneca back as the Irish trailed only 44-36 with 5:15 showing.
But Carroll and Stokes then fueled an 11-point Ottawa run which included two drives by Isaac Gassman (11 points) to put the game on ice.
“We were kind of playing more one-on-one rather than as a team in the first half,” said Carroll. “In the second half we did better playing as a team.”