Fort Osage took the court at noont on the day after Christmas, so it came as no surprise that the Indians were a tad sluggish.
Coach Josh Wilson expected some post-holiday hangover from the Indians in Wednesday’s game against Winnetonka in the first round of the 39th annual William Jewell Holiday Classic. The Indians didn’t find their footing until they ended the second quarter with a 16-3 run that sent them rolling to a 66-46 victory at William Jewell’s Mabee Center.
Fort Osage (6-2) will meet Raymore-Peculiar in the Nelson Division semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday night. Ray-Pec downed St. Joseph Central 51-47 in overtime.
Wilson said he feels his team won’t have the same holiday layover worries after the Indians got them out of their system Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s always a concern when you’re going the day after Christmas,” Wilson said. “Noon game, who’s going to show up and we talked about it. But we got our plan going in the second quarter.”
Fort Osage’s plan included full-court pressure defense, which forced five Winnetonka turnovers in the second quarter, which led to fast-break baskets. Neither were in evidence when the Indians slogged through a 6-3 first quarter.
Winnetonka (3-6) was still within 13-9 midway through the second quarter when the Indians turned up the pressure. The Griffins turned the ball over on the final four possessions of the quarter, and the Indians responded with an 11-0 run for a 27-14 lead by halftime.
“Mainly it was our defense getting after it,” Fort Osage senior guard Ty Baker said. “Coach told us to put pressure on them and we’ll take control of the game. And that’s just what we did.”
Baker found fast-break baskets off the pressure as he finished with a team-high 19 points. He was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field as he reached double figures for the first time this season. Jared Larson scored 15 points, Miles Dunfield chipped in 10 and Xavier Kahube just missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds.
“We’ve had different leading scorers almost every single game,” Wilson said. “It’s just a mixed bag what you’re going to get from them.”
Fort Osage pushed the lead to 38-18 on a Larsen three midway through the third quarter, but Winnetonka didn’t go away. The Indians managed only two more baskets the rest of the period and Griffins battled back to cut the lead to 42-32 entering the fourth quarter.
Winnetonka stayed within 47-37 until 3-pointers from Dunfield, Larson and Baker helped the Indians go up 58-40 in the final two minutes.
“They’re tenacious,” Wilson said of Winnetonka. “I think in that stretch we had a couple of easy layups that we ended up missing, they got a couple of open threes. We just went away from what got us there and then we were able to focus back up.”
Jay Williamson and A.J. Goss scored nine points apiece to lead Winnetonka, which will play a consolation game against St. Joseph Central this morning.