By Michael Smith
It was deafening inside the Fort Osage High School gymnasium while William Chrisman guard Isaiah Jackson was at the free throw line.
His Bears were clinging to a 61-58 lead with 33 seconds left. Fort Osage fans let out shrieks, while those in the student section were stomped rapidly, trying to rattle Jackson.
The Chrisman junior was undeterred. He just had to remember advice his father gave him.
“It started when I was young,” Jackson said. “My dad always told me, ‘It’s just you and the basket. There’s no one else there.’”
Jackson connected on both free throws and later connected on two more to help put the game away in a 66-58 Bears victory Friday in Suburban Middle Seven Conference action.
“I am very proud of him down the stretch with a gym going nuts,” Chrisman coach Jake Kates said of Jackson. “We’ve been wanting him to take some leadership on this team. Most nights, he’s going to be one of the best guards on the floor. Tonight, he did a good job closing it out and took care of the ball.”
Chrisman (16-6, 7-2 Middle Seven) held off a furious second half comeback from Fort Osage (15-4, 5-3). The Bears were leading 36-23 at halftime, but the Indians held them to just six third-quarter points. A pair of 3-pointers from senior swingman Jared Larson and a driving layup late in the period from Darren Horning helped Fort Osage slice Chrisman’s lead to 42-38 going into the final period.
“We spotted them 13 points in the first half, and that’s a credit to them because they shot the ball well,” Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson said. “We missed a few early shots and that got us in trouble.
“We were able to come back, and our guys fought like hell, came back and fought no matter what. Chrisman-Fort games are supposed to be like that.”
Jackson, who led his team with 19 points with 11 coming in the fourth, began the period with a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 47-38. Chrisman led by six or more for most of the quarter until Larson connected on a pair of treys during an 8-3 run late to make it 61-58 with 33 seconds left. However, Jackson made 8 of 10 free throws in the final period, including the four big ones in the last minute.
A big block from Chrisman senior Dawson Herl on a layup attempt from Fort Osage senior Cahleel Smith and a turnover prevented the Indians from making a comeback in the last 30 seconds.
While Jackson came up big in the fourth, Chrisman got a big boost from an unlikely source. Zachery Rowe, a junior guard who had a total of one minute of varsity playing time coming in, scored all nine of his points in the second half, helping his team holding off the Indians.
“He came in the game during the third quarter and I never brought him off the floor,” Kates said of Rowe. “He was a game-changer. We won this game because of the work he did on the floor. He was a bulldog tonight.”
Added Jackson: “It was big. I was excited to see him do it. I told him he can take it in. He’s big. He can body anybody.”
Herl was the other Bear in double figures with 10 points. Tony Hilton added nine.
For the Indians, Larson had a game-high 24 points, including six 3-pointers; Tristan Turner added 10 and Smith chipped in with nine.
“Jared really worked hard on his shot in the offseason,” Wilson said. “He’s got guys coming up on him and running at him fast, and he was still able to make (3-pointers). If he keeps that going, we’ll be good to go.”
WILLIAM CHRISMAN 57, FORT OSAGE 27: The Bears held their U.S. 24 rivals to just five points in the first half to spark a blowout victory of the Indians in Suburban Middle Seven Conference action Friday.
Chrisman led 10-2 at the end of the first period and it went into halftime up 23-5. The Bears ran away with it after third, taking a 38-11 into the fourth.
Gia Moore led Chrisman (19-2, 6-1) with 19 points and Jacque David added 14.
The Indians fell to 7-10 overall and 3-4 in the conference.