The last place Fort Osage High School boys basketball coach Josh Wilson wants 6-foot-6 junior forward Xavier Kahube during a game is sitting next to him on the bench.
But that’s where he’s going to be the next few weeks after suffering what is believed to be a high ankle sprain in the closing minute of Friday’s practice.
“We’re not really sure what it is – a high ankle sprain, maybe a crack in the bone,” Wilson said of Kahube, who wore a boot on his right foot. “We had one drill left in practice last Friday and that’s when it happened.”
Kahube’s absence, however, only seemed to inspire the 12-3 Indians as they slipped past Platte County 50-36 Tuesday in the 21st annual Sonic Showdown at Grain Valley High School.
Perhaps the most inspired Indian was 6-4 swingman Triston Turner, who grabbed 18 rebounds and scored 14 points with his teammate on the bench.
“How about Triston tonight?” Wilson said as the Indians bundled up outside of the Grain Valley locker room to make the wet trek to the team bus in the parking lot. “He had to have at least 11 or 12 rebounds in the first half and 18 or 20 for the game.
“We’re going to miss Xavier. It’s going to hurt us the next couple of weeks. But like you saw tonight, the absence of a very good player can inspire a team and give kids a chance to prove what they can do in a game situation. We played a lot of guys tonight, and that is going to pay off big time late in the season when the games get more and more important.”
Early in the game, it appeared the Indians might run off with the victory, but a few lapses in the second half allowed the Pirates to get back in the game.
“We have to get a lead, and keep a lead, and not let a team get back in a game,” Turner said. “That was addressed in the locker room. That was not a good moment in the game for us, but we did a lot of good things tonight.
“We had a height advantage, even without X (Kahube), and we took advantage of it. It wasn’t our best or our prettiest win of the season, but it was a win and we’re all happy with that.”
Ty Baker, who can score inside or out, led the Indians with 15 points.
“The biggest thing about tonight’s win was that we showed some great composure when Platte County made a run at us the second half,” Baker said. “We didn’t have X and I thought we really did a good job with Triston on the boards and some of the new guys who got to play tonight.
“We heard about letting Platte County back in the game in the locker room, but that’s a message we needed to hear. We had a big lead in the first half, and they made it a game in the second half, but we never let them get close enough where it was a one or two possession game.”
And that was important to Wilson.
“I told our guys, ‘You have to play hard for four quarters,’ but a few years ago, we were the team that got down early – but never stopped working hard,” Wilson said. “Sometimes it paid off with a win. But it always pays off to play hard and that has never been an issue with these guys.
“I just think they got comfortable with that (19-5 second-quarter) lead and didn’t play quite as hard as they did to take that lead. It’s great to win any game and these tournament games are going to give us the chance to play a lot of guys so they will know what varsity playing time is like if we need them in the postseason.”