The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 1, 2014

Great matchups expected at Ottens Shootout

By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor

FULTON, Ill. — Winter weather has disrupted high school sports schedules for more than a month.

Josh Knuth is hoping it won't cause headaches again this weekend. The forecast, however, suggests Mother Nature might have different plans.

Fulton High School hosts the Eric Ottens Shootout today on Stan Borgman Court, but with three of the boys basketball teams traveling 88, 125 and 181 miles, Knuth, Fulton's first-year athletic director, might have some anxious moments until every team arrives safely.

If everything comes off as planned, though, Knuth anticipates a great day of basketball. The five-game schedule begins at 1 p.m., with Clinton scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. game and Fulton set for the final contest at 7 p.m.

"We've got a great variety of teams," Knuth said. "It's a nice setup. Anytime you're in a shootout it helps promote the game of basketball."

The field includes area teams Prophetstown, West Carroll, Clinton and Fulton; Orion, Riverdale and Stillman Valley; and the three teams making long trips: Somonauk, Timothy Christian of Elmhurst, Ill., and Milwaukee South Division.

South Division, where former NBA star Terry Porter played, had a 9-6 record entering its game Friday night. It is led by three seniors: 6-foot-3 Johnny Benson (14.5 points a game), 6-3 Matthew Williams (12.3) and 6-1 Carl Thomas (10.1).

"It will be a tough challenge for us," Clinton coach Nick Lawrence said. "They don't have a lot of size, but they have a lot of athletes. I liken them to (Davenport) Central."

Knuth is hoping the last three games — Riverdale faces Timothy Christian at 4 p.m. — fill the gym. But he also is interested in the second game: West Carroll against Somonauk at 2:30 p.m. Knuth came to Fulton from West Carroll, where he had served as boys basketball coach since 2003.

"I got a chance to see them over the holidays," he said. "It will be nice to see them again."

Prophetstown and Orion kick off the shootout at 1 p.m. It concludes with the 7 p.m. Fulton vs. Stillman Valley game.

"The last game of the night should be fantastic," Knuth said. "We're real excited about that. Fulton is chomping at the bit. I don't think Fulton has won here."

The shootout honors the memory of former Fulton standout Eric Ottens, who died in a car accident in 2006 after playing at Evansville University.

"I had the opportunity to play with Eric, and not only was he a great player and teammate on the court, but he was also a good person off the court," first-year Fulton coach RJ Coffey said. "We hope to honor those qualities and encourage them in youth of all ages with this exciting day of basketball."