Ty Baker didn't intend the take what turned out to be the game-winning shot.
The Fort Osage senior wanted to pass – what he does best – to a teammate, but the Ruskin defense didn't allow that.
So, Baker went up for a layup and made it to give the Indians a 58-57 overtime victory in Suburban Middle Seven Conference play on a snowy Friday night.
The only game in town – and one of only a few in the metro area – provided a frenzied back-and-forth fourth quarter. Ruskin rallied late to force overtime, and in the extra session, each team had problems making free throws.
That set the stage for Ruskin to take the lead with less than 30 seconds to play and for Baker to answer with 11 seconds left. The Indians (10-3) withstood a last second 3-point attempt by the Eagles (5-9) to pick up the victory.
“We had trouble putting the ball in the hole, but we came together as a group,” Baker said. “We had a little talk before the overtime started. We got to finish this and that is a game we needed, a conference game especially.”
Would the Indians – who was one win shy of tying their total from the past two years combined – won this game when Baker was an underclassman?
“No, we wouldn't have been able to fight through that adversity two years ago, or even last year,” said Baker, who scored a game-high 27 points. “The progress of this team has been amazing.”
The basket was a bit of redemption for Baker.
With 34 seconds left in regulation, with his team up 48-46, Baker drove to the basket and saw his shot fall, but drew a charge call. Seconds later, Tyrone Moore made the game-tying basket for Ruskin.
Fort had a more chance to win it, but a shot was off target.
Moore's bucket tied the game for the 11th time and that was the fifth time in the fourth quarter the teams were deadlocked.
The foul call on Baker was in the back of his mind when he drove the lane and looked to pass to either Xavier Kahube or Triston Turner. They were covered so he took the shot and ended it.
Free throw shooting success and the lack there of made a big impact in overtime for both teams.
Baker hit two free throws to open the scoring in the extra session and then a unique series of plays helped the Indians boost the lead to 53-48.
Indians senior Jared Larson drew a foul and went to the line. He made the first free throw and missed the second. He grabbed his miss and put up a shot. He missed, but Turner got the rebound and was fouled shooting.
Turner hit his first free throw and missed the second. Kahube grabbed the rebound and was fouled while going up for a shot. He made his first free throw but missed the second, but Ruskin got a defensive rebound after Fort Osage shot six free throws in a seven-second span.
With a little more than three minutes to play, Ruskin got its turn at the line.
Deone McCarthy was fouled while shooting in the paint, but before he got his shots off, Fort Osage was called for a technical foul. Moore went to the line and hit 1 of 2 free throws. McCarthy then went for his shots and made only 1 of 2.
That pulled Ruskin within 53-52, but two free throws by Kahube, who had 11 points, pushed the lead to 55-52 with 2:17 left.
Moore hit two free throws with 1:59 left, but fouled out 24 seconds later.
Fort Osage ran 30 seconds off the clock after that and Baker hit 1 of 2 free throws with 55.5 seconds left to make it 56-54.
With 27.4 left, Ruskin’s Kalaun Baker drove the lane and made a bucket, while drawing a foul. That put him on the foul line, and he hit a free throw to push the lead to 57-56, the penultimate lead change. Baker's final bucket then won it.
Baker finished with a team-high 17 points for Ruskin, while Jalen Dunn had 16 – which featured four 3-pointers and 14 total points in the third.
“Good teams find a way to win games like that,” Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson said. “We overcame some suspect free throw shooting and they took the lead. We come back and get an and-one and we get an and-one and then we get the stop. To be able to do that, it shows what kind of team we are, and we are still progressing. We are not close to where we will be yet.”