Her team survived two scoring droughts that totaled nearly 12 minutes, got the winning basket with four seconds left and stole away William Chrisman’s last-gasp possession.
But Fort Osage girls basketball coach Dawn Williams still could justifiably say her team made its 48-46 Suburban Middle Seven home victory over U.S. 24 Highway rival Chrisman harder than necessary.
The Indians (4-3, 2-0 conference) committed three turnovers to help fritter away a seven-point lead in the final two minutes, and that’s barely taking into account their 5-of-17 free throw shooting in the second half.
Asia Cole made sure the Fort Osage faithful went home happy, however.
After the Bears’ Haley Rodriguez caught a baseline inbound under the basket and got a near-straight-up-and-down shot to fall, tying the game at 46, the Indians advanced past halfcourt before calling timeout with 13 seconds remaining.
With sisters Paige and Raven Bunn having fouled out after combining for 22 points, the Indians sought an entry pass to Cole in the post. Rodriguez knocked back the initial attempt, then tipped the second one up in the air. Upon winning the jump-ball scenario Cole had inside position, and while losing her balance she still put up the go-ahead hoop.
After inbounding, Chrisman (2-5, 0-1) tried a second pass to set up a shot, but Cole snared the ball to clinch the win.
“We were trying to get the ball down low; I just happened to be the one open,” Cole said of the winning basket. "When the ball got tipped, I needed to go up and get it.
“I was trying to see where the ball was going (on defense), and I had this feeling they would throw deep. When it came toward me, I thought, ‘I’ve just to got to for it.’ I got it, and I was so happy.”
Despite a near-7 1/2-minute dry spell into the second quarter and no points over the last half of the third quarter, Fort Osage trailed just 20-17 at halftime and 26-25 heading into the fourth. While the Indians shot 6 of 28 in the middle two quarters, the Bears were 4 of 18 over the same stretch.
“Defensively, we did fine, and on the backboards we did well,” Williams said. “We took way too many early shots without rebounders underneath, or moving the ball. We just played right into their zone defense, and the shots weren’t falling. We couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”
Paige Bunn had nine points and three offensive rebounds to lead Fort Osage’s fourth-quarter charge to a 38-32 lead. When Chrisman freshman Adreon Bell’s steal and layup made it 38-37 with 4:13 left, the Indians responded with a 7-1 push, including Cole’s assist to Siera Glassford after Nimo Samena won a loose-ball scramble for a turnover.
Paige and Raven Bunn each had 11 points for Fort Osage, and Paige corralled 19 rebounds, six of them at the offensive end, to lead the Indians’ 42-31 rebounding advantage.
“We’ve always encouraged her to rebound,” Williams said of the sophomore sister. “Paige is good enough that she can play in the post and on the outside, and she’s worked on her outside shot. She can shoot it, but sometimes she forgets to rebound.”
“I thought that we were intimidated to rebound aggressively,” Chrisman coach Lindsay Thompson said. “But we did things necessary to stay in the game, and our little freshman point guard (Bell) held her composure.”
The Bears clawed back at the free throw line, where six trips to the line netted seven points, and Bell’s steal of a long inbound pass helped set up Rodriguez’s tying basket before Cole’s final heroics.
Cole finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Both teams committed 21 turnovers – seven each in the fourth quarter. But despite such shortcomings Thompson remained upbeat.
“Unlucky at the end,” Thompson said. “But I’m so proud of them. It’s the best game they’ve put together so far. If we keep improving, I’ll be happy.
“Our motto is ‘Be team-strong,’ and that’s what we were.”
“It doesn’t feel like we lost the game,” added junior guard Rachel Losch, who contributed five points and five rebounds. “I felt we improved, like we won.
“We could’ve made some better decisions earlier in the game, and if we’d made more of our free throws, that would’ve made a big difference.”
Rodriguez had 10 points and Bell eight points and three steals for the Bears. Makenzie Erikson and sub Chrissy HoChee chipped in six apiece.
Chrisman’s junior varsity was a 47-19 winner.