When Fort Osage senior Ty Baker picked up his fifth foul late in Thursday’s game against Liberty North, he grabbed a cup of water before slamming his fist into the gym floor.
It was a frustrating night for him and his Indians in the semifinals of the Class 5 District 15 tournament. They led most of the game game until there was 4 minutes left.
The Eagles took their first lead at 51-50 following 3-pointer from Benjamin Caplan. That highlighted a second half run that ended Fort Osage’s season in a 66-60 loss Thursday at North Kansas City High School.
Liberty North will play William Chrisman (see related story) in the district championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Honestly, our mind wasn’t right,” said Baker, who scored a team-high 17 points. “We’re thinking about other things and getting involved with the refs. We didn’t focus on the little things like we had all season. That took us out of our game.”
The Eagles lived large from behind the 3-point line, shooting 11 of 22 from there, including the go-ahead shot by Caplan. Senior guard Christopher Purcell was a big part of that as he tormented the Indians defense with a game-high 28 points. He shot 7 of 10 from the field, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc. Purcell also hit 6 of 7 free throws as the Eagles shot 12 of 14 from there in the fourth period.
“He hit some good shots,” Fort Osage coach Josh WIlson said. “There were a couple of possessions where we lost him. We then had to overhelp and they had other good shooters who knocked down shots.
“We weren’t able to hit some outside shots (in the fourth quarter). They were able to take advantage of that.”
The teams traded the lead four times in the first quarter and the Indians took the lead off a 3-pointer from Jared Larson 3-pointer which made it 11-9. Senior Ty Baker score eight points in the period to help the Indians take a 15-9 lead into the second.
Fort Osage led by as many as nine in the second period when Josh Viana hit a 3-pointer on the first possession. The Indians later pounded the ball inside and got to the paint via the dribble drive. That allowed them to go 7 of 8 from the foul line, helping them go into halftime up 33-26.
In the second half, Liberty North crowded the paint and Purcell took over on offense in the third, scoring 11 of the Eagles’ 18 third-quarter points to trim Fort Osage’s lead to 46-44 going into the final period.
The Indians held off Liberty North for the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter until Caplan put the Eagles ahead for good.
Injuries did the Indians no favors either. Senior Darren Horning had an injury that kept him from playing for the majority of the second half. They were also missing 6-foot-6 forward Xavier Kahube, who suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s final home game against Oak Park on Feb. 19.
“Darren tried to power through the injury,” Wilson said. “He could hardly walk. We’re proud of him for trying. That made us a shorter bench.”
Despite the loss, Wilson said he was proud of the progress his team made as it finished 19-6, almost doubling its win total from the past two seasons combined.
“That’s what we talked about in there,” Wilson said. “We thanked the guys, especially the seniors. We asked them to do a lot of things they haven’t done in their career at Fort Osage. They bought into it and we were successful because of it.”
Larson finished with 13 points and Tristan Turner added 12 for the Indians.