Fort Osage girls basketball coach Lindsay Thompson couldn’t have been prouder of her team after Monday night’s game against Suburban Middle Six foe Oak Park.
The team had to overcome so much. There have been a few players who have had to battle the flu in recent weeks and the Indians have had to play without one of their rotational players due to disciplinary reasons.
However, behind the clutch play of Kiyley Flowers, Austin Moise and Camryn Miller, the Indians gutted out a 55-51 home win over the Oakies.
Thompson’s team was able to keep its composure throughout in a game that saw a bevy of turnovers on both sides and one in which neither team led by more than six points in a roller-coaster affair.
“I was really impressed with our intensity,” Thompson said. “We’ve had a lot kids out with the flu and one kid out for a disciplinary thing. We’ve been through a lot of adversity the last week. We talked a lot about fighting through adversity, and tonight we showed some of that.”
They also had to fight off Oak Park’s Paige Allen, who scored a game-best 25 points. She seemingly got to the basket at will and was a menace on the fast break for the Indians. She scored 17 of those points in the second half to keep the game close.
The Oakies led 11-7 after the end of the first, but Fort Osage came back to take a 26-23 advantage going into halftime, largely thanks to a trio of threes from Flowers, who hit two in a row to end the quarter.
Oak Park stormed back in the third and eventually took a 38-34 lead midway through the third when Allen split a double-team in transition and put in an impressive layup. Miller hit a 3-pointer and Flowers made a driving layup on the Indians’ next two possessions, but the Oakies still managed to enter the fourth with a 42-39 lead.
Flowers didn’t waste any time hitting a 3-pointer to tie it as she pulled up for a trey on the right wing. The talented freshman utilized the pull-up 3-pointer many times in the game. The defenders, respecting her ability to drive to the basket, gave her a little bit of space, and she made them pay, including one from about 24 feet out.
“Since coming back from her concussion, Kiyley had been struggling a little bit offensively,” Thompson said. “Tonight, she played with more confidence. That was a big deal.
“Just yesterday in practice, she started to practice that shot. In practice, she doesn’t really shoot (the pull-up 3-pointer) often. I think it showed today that she’s got her confidence back and she was making that shot.”
Added Flowers, who finished with a team-high 21 points: “I wait and if they guard me, I pass it over to one of my teammates. But if they back off, I pull up and try and take it.”
After Oak Park regained the lead at 44-42 came the big momentum shift. Allen was called for a foul a little after a 3-point shot had been released by Miller. Allen couldn’t believe it and threw her hands up in the air while walking to the other side of the court. She was then given a technical foul, which gave Miller five free throws and she sank four of them, putting her team up for good (46-44).
“That’s what a senior is supposed to do,” Thompson said of Miller, who had 14 points. “She prided herself on her free-throw percentage last year. At the beginning of (this) season, she was irritated because she missed quite a few. When she stepped up and hit two out of the three, (the referees) turned around and asked who is going to shoot (the technical free throws). I was liked, ‘She’s got it.’”
Added Miller: “I was actually really nervous. The score was tied and I knew it was going to come down to free throws and knew I had to hit them.”
The Indians (9-8, 1-2) were able to seal it by hitting 10 of their last 12 free throws, including a pair from Moise with 3.3 seconds left.
Alecia Monday added 12 points for Fort Osage.