The worst-case scenario in coach Josh Wilson’s mind never materialized.

The worst-case scenario in coach Josh Wilson’s mind never materialized.

Instead, his Fort Osage boys basketball team experienced the best-case variety, the program’s first-ever district title, after Friday’s 56-54 win over Kearney in the Class 5 District 14 final at William Chrisman High School.

The Indians (14-13) never trailed after an early 10-3 advantage, grabbing the lead for good late in the first quarter to beat Kearney (15-12) for the third time this season. They will face Blue Springs South in sectionals Wednesday at the Independence Events Center.

“My fear was the nerves would get ’em early,” Wilson said. “I think that happened in 2008 (the last time Fort Osage made district finals), and we didn’t let that happen tonight. The kids came out, were determined and stuck to the game plan.”

After Kearney’s Alex Prewitt buried his second 3-pointer in 10 seconds – and fifth overall – to make it a two-point game with 1.5 seconds left, a foul sent Austin Regier to the line with 0.6 showing. Both of Regier’s attempts rattled off, but the Bulldogs couldn’t beat the buzzer with a last-ditch heave.

“I was just thinking about how our seniors – Laz (Wooten), Jason (King), Josh (Perry) – and all the work they’ve put into this season to get to this point,” said Regier, who led all players with 20 points. “They get to be that class that won the first district title.”

Regier hit consecutive treys in the Indians’ early push. Though Kearney forged a couple ties in the first period, and Fort Osage played nearly 10 minutes with 6-foot-5 D’Vante Mosby parked on the bench with two fouls, the Indians still led 24-18 at halftime.

“When your leader goes out, and you have someone like Nathan (Iloilo) who steps up, and Jason King had a big basket, that makes it easier when your big guy’s out,” Wilson said. “That’s when it could’ve gotten bad, and the kids embraced it.”

Fort Osage’s lead reached as high as eight in the third, but Chris Head’s basket off an inbound pass and Prewitt’s corner 3-ball in the final seconds sliced the margin to 41-40 heading into the fourth.

Momentum appeared to be in the Bulldogs’ favor, but Iloilo canned a jumper on the first possession, and Kearney didn’t score until 2:43 remained.

“We talked all week about taking good shots,” said Iloilo, who had eight points off the bench. “I was just feeling it, and it was open.

“We knew they’d go on runs. Instead of trying to score right away, we were thinking about making it really tough for them on offense.”

Immediately before Kearney ended its drought, Fort Osage emerged from a timeout and Brian Starr, standing closer to the scorer’s table than the 3-point arc, found Zach Adams wide open for a thunderous dunk to make it 47-40.

Another Adams dunk off a Starr assist made it 51-45 with 1:19 left. Kearney’s Eric Farley responded with a 3-pointer, but Regier went 5 of 6 at the foul line before his final misses.

The Indians committed just five turnovers while extracting 11, and Kearney coach Gary Belcher credited Fort Osage for never flinching.

“Every time we got within one possession, they made it two,” he said. “That’s the kind of battles we’ve had all three times. “Every time we got close, somebody stepped up and made a play.”