Fort Osage senior Camryn Miller said that the Indians girls basketball team had never defeated crosstown rival William Chrisman since she’s been a part of it.
One of those losses included a 46-44 overtime loss in December. The last time the Indians had topped their rivals was in December 2013.
But at long last, on Thursday, Fort Osage finally did it.
Thanks to a sound defensive strategy and yet another solid offensive game from point guard Kiyley Flowers, the Indians captured a 44-36 win at home.
“It felt awesome.” Miller said of beating the Bears. “That was the one team I wanted to beat because I’ve never beat them. I am very pumped.”
Indians coach Lindsay Thompson – who was partly responsible for some of those losses as a former Chrisman coach – said that her team has been the underdogs for most of the season due to the 2-21 record it had last year. That may not be the case anymore this season as Fort Osage is having its best season in four years.
“We talked about it before the game, the only people that were going to be surprised that we won this game were people not here at Fort Osage,” Thompson said. “This isn’t surprising for us. It’s surprising for everyone else. We only had two wins last year and our senior class has stayed with it even through getting their butt kicked last year. We worked hard to surprise some folks this year. And it feels good.”
The Indians executed a solid game plan of utilizing a mix of a 2-3 zone and a 3-2 zone to limit the amount of touches that the Bears got in the paint. While Chrisman did see some good shots in the paint in the first and third quarters, there weren’t as many opportunities in the second and fourth.
“That typically isn’t Fort Osage basketball,” Thompson said. “We don’t play a whole lot of zone at all. When defending (Chrisman’s) big kids, the zone was our best bet. I asked (her players) for some of their input and they agreed with how this would look. Jacque (David) is a stud. She’s a really nice player. We wanted to keep the ball out of her hands as much as we could. We executed that game plan really well.”
While Fort Osage (11-8, 2-4 Middle Six) wasn’t exactly on fire, Flowers helped keep that side of the ball afloat with a game-best 16 points. She also had six rebounds, eight assists and four steals. One of her most impressive assists came late in the fourth quarter when she weaved through three players and threw a pass over the top of Chrisman’s defense to a wide-open Rachel Buntin for a layup.
“That’s something I’ve gotten used to,” Flowers said of getting double-teamed late in games. “Sometimes you can break through and sometimes you can’t. That’s usually when I really look to get it to my teammates.”
The freshman has been a huge influence for the Fort Osage offense all year long. She had missed a handful of games because of a concussion and got off the a slow start in her first few games back. But recently, she’s had five straight games in which she’s scored 16 points or more.
“Coming off a concussion, I was scared to attack the basket like I normally do,” Flowers said of her first few games back from the injury. “By the time this game started, I was able to get back to be my normal self and not be scared of doing anything.”
Things didn’t start out well for Fort Osage early on as they fell behind 10-2 early and went into the second down 12-9. After a putback layup to start the second from Gia Moore made it 14-9 Chrisman, Flowers got her team right back in it by completing a four-point play when she was fouled on a made 3-pointer.
Ten of Flowers’ points came in the second quarter and a 3-pointer from Ally Young helped the Indians go into halftime ahead 25-17.
Chrisman then flipped the script in the third quarter as Jacque David, who had a team-high 12 points, established herself inside, scoring six straight points, including a turnaround baseline jumper, to pull her team within 25-24.
The Bears eventually tied it at 28 following a pair of free throws from Abigayle Emmons and a fast-break layup and 3-pointer from Amanda Szopinski that helped the Bears (12-9, 3-2) reclaim a 33-32 lead going into the final period.
The Indians started the fourth on a 10-0 run as Flowers scored or assisted on eight of those points, and they never looked back.
“We had nine turnovers in the first half against the zone, so we didn’t take very good care of the ball,” Chrisman coach Scott Schaefer said. “They shot the ball better than us, too.
“I thought we played with a tremendous amount of heart, climbing uphill in the third. We just couldn’t sustain that.”