• Regier's dunk helps boost Indians to quarterfinals for first time

  • Josh Wilson was looking for a spark, something to ignite his Fort Osage boys basketball team that struggled for much of the first half of its Class 5 Sectional contest against underdog St. Joseph Central.

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  • Josh Wilson was looking for a spark, something to ignite his Fort Osage boys basketball team that struggled for much of the first half of its Class 5 Sectional contest against underdog St. Joseph Central.
    The spark took place at the 1:09 mark of the second quarter when Austin Regier picked the pocket of a Central player, drove the length of the court and slammed home a dunk that gave the Indians a 19-18 lead heading into the locker room at the Independence Events Center.
    That was Fort Osage's first lead of the game.
    “That was what we needed,” said Wilson, whose Indians outscored Central 34-16 in the second half to claim a 53-34 victory that puts them in the 6 p.m. Class 5 state quarterfinal game Saturday against Rockhurst at the Independence Events Center. This will be the first quarterfinal appearance for Fort in program history.
    “Austin's steal and dunk – that was the game-changer. We needed something, we needed to get back to playing Fort Osage basketball. After that, the kids all loosened up, gained confidence and went out and played the type of basketball we've been playing all season.”
    The dunk paved the way to an 18-7 third period that featured back-to-back 3-pointers by Skylar Thompson and D'Vante Mosby that gave the Indians a 27-21 lead at the 5:13 mark.
    “We all loosened up after we got the 3-pointers,” said Thompson, a freshman who finished with 13 points and hit three 3-pointers. “This was just an amazing game. We started out so slow, but Coach just kept telling us to play the type of basketball that got us here.
    “And when Austin got that steal and dunk, we all got so excited and started playing Fort Osage basketball. When we got off to the good start in the third period it was like all the pressure was off our shoulders and we just went out and played.”
    Regier, who finished with five steals, seven points and 10 boards, keyed a second-period stretch where the Indians forced turnovers on five of the last six Central possessions.
    “We came out sloppy and we didn't play very well the first period,” said Regier, as Central held a 13-7 lead after the first eight minutes. “Our strength all season has been defense, and Coach told us that Central was 0-9 when they scored 52 or fewer points, so we got a lot more intense on defense.
    “I thought Skylar and D'Vante's 3s were a lot more important than my dunk, but it did get everyone excited right before the half. We played like a different team in the second half. I'm glad we were able to overcome the way we started, because we haven't played like that in a long time.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Thompson and Mosby had the lone Fort Osage field goals in the first period as Central controlled the game’s tempo.
    “We tried to play their game, instead of playing our game,” said Mosby, a senior leader who finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds. He even carried in his teammates warm-ups after the big win.
    “Our defense finally started to play well the second half. We were boxing out, getting rebounds and doing the things we've been doing all season that helped us reach sectionals.
    “It's like I told the guys on the team, we're here for a reason. Now, let's go out and make the most of it.”
    With chants of “He's a freshman!” ringing in his ears, Thompson hit a 3-pointer to start the third period. Mosby followed with a trey and the rout was on.
    “That was a good Central team,” Wilson said of the 11-14 Indians. “Our kids got on the Internet and found out what their record was, and soon they started chatting saying how they were a lot better than their record and how we would have to play a strong game to beat them.
    “That really pleased me, because I didn't want us to think that they wouldn't be a strong opponent with that record.”
    When asked about the difference between the first and second halves, Wilson said, “It all turned around after Austin's steal and dunk and we started playing better defense the second half.
    “D'Vante had a huge game on the boards – 15 rebounds tie his single-game high – and Skylar and Nathan (Iloilo) (who finished with eight points off the bench) hit some big baskets. Will (Penamon) did a lot of nice things and Zach (Adams) and Marc (Crowley) played well.
    “It was a team win, a huge win. Now, we have to get ready for Rockhurst.”
    The Indians will take a 22-4 record into the quarterfinal matchup against the 23-5 Hawklets.
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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