Having a lead as high as 12 get sliced to one with more than 11 minutes still to play could cause some alarm, but Fort Osage boys basketball coach Josh Wilson said he expected it.
William Chrisman made a third-quarter charge Friday but couldn’t overtake the visiting Indians, who received some clutch baskets from Brian Starr and Will Penamon down the stretch and held on for a 69-63 win in a battle of Suburban Middle Seven co-leaders.
Fort Osage (12-5, 5-1 Middle Seven), which opened the game with a Skylar Thompson-fueled 13-1 blitz and led 38-28 at halftime, won its seventh in a row. Chrisman, which had surprised Fort Osage on its home court two months ago, fell to 10-8 and 4-2.
“We knew it was going to (get close),” Wilson said. “They’re a good team, well-coached, and they were playing hard,” he said of Chrisman.
“It could’ve gotten worse, but we hit some big shots – that 3 that Will hit that decided to touch every part of the rim.”
Will Penamon’s wait-for-it 3-pointer came late in the third quarter with Fort Osage holding a 49-48 edge. Starr’s steal on the back end of the press led to Willie Penamon’s split of two free throws at the other end, and the Indians took a 53-48 lead into the fourth.
Treys by Starr and Penamon and a driving three-point play by Penamon helped keep Bears at bay in the final period. Brett Pendergist’s putback pulled the Bears within 66-63 with 39.8 seconds showing. But Pendergist missed the free throw for a possible three-point play, Starr rebounded and Will Penamon hit a pair of free throws to ice the game.
Penamon finished with 19 points, while Starr had 13 to go with five rebounds, four steals and three assists. They were big complements to Thompson’s 25 points, 19 of which came in the first half.
“You see one player step up, and the defense is going to focus on him,” Will Penamon said. “You’ve got to step up and say, ‘He’s working hard; I’ve got to work twice as hard.’
Thompson netted seven points in the opening spurt, and his putback for a three-point play with five seconds left in the second quarter gave Fort Osage its halftime lead. Whether a bank shot, 3-pointer or glide to the hoop, Thompson couldn’t miss – he shot 8 of 10 from the field.
“Going into the game I was really focused,” Thompson said. “We had a long break since the last game, and I wanted to come out and get us on top.
“With me and Will and Brian, if we push it fast, I don’t think any team can stop us on the fast break.”
Chrisman’s comeback started in earnest when Pendergist converted a Fort Osage turnover into a layup to make it 47-44 midway through the third. Chris Horn added a 3-pointer from the wing – his fourth long-range bomb – and another Fort Osage cough-up led to Randall Horn’s third-chance basket to make it 47-46 at the 3:35 mark.
Chris Horn led the Bears with 21 points, shooting 8 of 11.
“With our pressure defense, one of the hardest things is if we’re not getting a steal or turnover, sometimes the matchups can be bad,” Wilson said, “and a couple times we didn’t find (Horn) fast enough.
Chrisman coach Chad Wright said his team’s defense keyed the rally.
“We were able to do some stuff that’s part of our game plan,” Wright said. “We couldn’t get over that hump by continuing to play great defense. We would have one or two guys not do their job.
“It’s a mentality that we can’t seem to put together for four quarters. If we do that, we can be pretty good.”
Alex Ball added 15 poins and eight rebounds, Pendergist 12 points and Randall Horn 10 points with five offensive rebounds for the Bears.
WILLIAM CHRISMAN 53, FORT OSAGE 49: The start of Friday’s girls-boys doubleheader started gloomy for Chrisman, but it overcame an early 10-point deficit and snuffed out Fort Osage’s late rally to get within a game of .500.
Fort Osage (10-8, 4-3 Middle Seven) led as much as 16-6 and it was 16-7 after one quarter, but Chrisman (9-10, 4-3) started the second with an 11-0 run with Haley Rodriguez and Adreon Bell getting all the points.
“We were down about eight, and I asked them if their dog died,” Chrisman coach Lindsay Thompson said. “I said, ‘Then why are you acting like it? There’s a bazillion minutes of game left.
“This is big for two reasons. We were upset we lost at their place, and we’ve had nine million games where we were within five or 10 points and we haven’t been finishing. This is a big step forward for our kids, especially with our youth.
Trailing 28-24 at halftime, Chrisman started the third with an 8-2 run and twice pushed its lead to six. Fort Osage didn’t score in the fourth until Asia Cole basket down low with 4:08 left, but Raven Bunn added four points to tie things at 46 with 1:40 left.
But Bell earned a trip to the free throw line and sank a pair to put Chrisman back in front for good, and Makenzie Erikson and Bri Burns combined for 5 of 6 at the line.
Rodriguez had 14 points and seven rebounds, and Rachel Losch tallied 13 and 12, respectively. Bell (3 steals) and Asia Young pitched in eight points apiece.
Cole (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Raven Bunn (14 and 11) had double-doubles for Fort Osage, and Paige Bunn added 13 points and seven boards. But Fort Osage shot 10 of 38 after the first quarter, negating the 19-9 advantage it had in offensive rebounds.
“We missed so many shots near the basket,” Fort Osage coach Dawn Williams said. “Raven had 14 and she could’ve had 28. Offensively we got the shots we wanted; we just couldn’t put the ball in hole.
“The second quarter we settled for way too many jump shots. They went on a run, and we took jump shot after jump shot.”