With some senior poise, Raytown was able to overcome the noise.
Playing in front of a fired-up and near-capacity crowd at the Fort Osage High School gym and Spectrum Sports TV cameras, Raytown benefitted from the calm and collected play of its veteran lineup Friday night, especially during a tension-filled fourth quarter, and escaped with a 49-43 Suburban Middle Seven Conference victory.
Raytown (8-5 overall, 3-1 conference) made free throws down the stretch and calmly handled Fort Osage’s press as it clung to a narrow lead throughout the fourth quarter. Four of the Blue Jays starters are seniors, and Raytown coach Cody Buford said that helped the Blue Jays weather the storm.
“It’s always loud here,” Buford said. “It was loud for the varsity girls game, and I knew it was just going to get louder and louder. And to have those seniors on the floor that have been in other big football and basketball games … I think that’s why we had a chance at the end of the game.”
In a game in which neither team led by more than five points, Raytown enjoyed a 42-37 advantage with two minutes to play. That lead shrank to 42-40 with 1:34 left, and it was a 44-43 game after Triston Turner battled for a putback and Ty Baker sank a free throw with 40.3 seconds left.
Baker’s free throw was the Indians’ last point. Fort Osage set up a full-court press, and the Blue Jays beat it and got a slam dunk from Desmond Hutson with 23 seconds left. Raytown made 3 of 4 free throws over the final seconds and 11 of 16 in the fourth quarter. Fort Osage, meanwhile, went 4-for-11 from the charity stripe in the final period.
Hutson, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, said it was easy for the Blue Jays to keep their cool with so many familiar faces on the floor.
“We’ve got a lot of chemistry,” said Hutson, who finished with 11 points. “We’ve all been playing together for a long time and we’re all real close friends. When we got on the court, it just felt right.”
Fort Osage (8-3, 2-2) jumped ahead 9-4 early and led 13-10 after the first quarter. A 7-2 run in the second quarter propelled Raytown to a 22-19 lead, and then things got rough for the Indians in third quarter.
Fort Osage was whistled for nine fouls in the third quarter, three of them charges, and two those on Baker. Baker, a senior swingman, who led the Indians with 12 points, had his fourth foul by the end of the period.
“Of all the things we weren’t doing very well, I kept looking up at the score and we were only two points down or three points down,” Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson said. “I was waiting for that one time we’d knock down a big shot or we’d tie the game and get them on a turnover. It just never happened.”
Still, Fort Osage managed a 6-0 run capped by a dunk from Xavier Kahube for a 28-27 lead in the third quarter. But Raytown’s Aubrey Martin, who led all scorers with 17 points, responded with a three-pointer and a fast-break drive that put the Blue Jays back on top for good.
Then it was just a matter of holding on for dear life.
“We just hit our free throws and got probably two or three more stops than they did,” Buford said. “We just made enough plays to get a win.”
FLOWERS POWERS FORT OSAGE GIRLS: Led by 29 points from Kiyley Flowers, Fort Osage’s girls held on for a 70-66 victory over Raytown.
Flowers, a 5-8 sophomore guard, hit two three-pointers during the third period turned a 36-24 halftime lead into a 55-41 advantage by the end of the third quarter.
Raytown battled back to within 66-64 with 24.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the Indians put it away when Katelyn Ward was fouled on a putback and converted the and-one with 14.2 seconds left.
Stevi Yancey scored 19 points and Ja’Mya Brown added 11 points to lead Raytown.