Van Horn junior Jaden Monday had a chance to win the game with the game tied at 47 with 11.9 seconds at Fort Osage.
Last season, he averaged more than 20 points per game and someone head coach Max Sollars saw as a potential all-state selection coming into the 2019-20 campaign. He was a tough assignment for any defender. So who did Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson chose for the tough matchup?
Senior Dominic Myers, an athlete more known for his football prowess than his skills on the court.
He stripped Monday as the junior was trying to dribble the ball between his legs. Myers raced to the other side of the court and missed a layup but senior swingman Triston Turner was there to get the rebound and putback after an initial missed dunk with 1.7 seconds left as he got fouled. He purposely missed the free throw, giving Van Horn an inbound with 1.4 left.
Fort Osage triple-teamed Monday on a pass from Adrian Chavira and the ball was knocked away as the Indians escaped with a 49-47 victory Friday.
“I thought he was going to make it,” Turner said of Myers. “But I hustled up there in case he missed it. I tried to dunk it, but it didn’t come out. So I got my own rebound and put it back in.”
Turner, who had to play in the post with talented forward Xavier Kahube sidelined with a leg injury, dominated in the post with a game-high 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. He seemed to consistently get deep position in the paint for high-percentage shots.
“We told Tristan, they are going to double-team you. They are going to triple-team you,’” Wilson said. “Can you get the ball out quick and get it back?’ I challenged him at halftime, ‘We need more from you.’ He came back and put it together.”
The senior added that he knew he was going to have to do the bulk of the work down low.
“We started out rough because in the first half, I would catch it and they would double-team me,” Turner said. “Then they just went off of it, and I told my teammates to feed me, and when they cut me off, I would look for you all. That opened things up for me when I passed and got rid of it.”
But it was Myers’ steal that set it up and he helped hold Monday to eight points.
“The great thing is, as he’s coming down there, you could see three of our guys behind him,” Wilson said of Myers. “I always give him a hard time about not making layups because he goes so fast. He’s such a waterbug.
“He can get up and defend. He’s so quick.”
Added Myers: “I knew my role when I joined this team, to play defense. I am just that defensive guy. I am not going to lie to you, basketball is not my main sport. The football part helps me with the defensive part in basketball. Whoever is scoring the most, I try to go out there and stop him.”
Fort Osage (1-2) came into the fourth up 33-29 and it fended off Van Horn for the first 6 minutes of the period until Chavira made a fast-break layup to tie it at 43-all with 2:02 remaining. Fort Osage traveled to turn the ball over on the ensuing possession.
On the other end, Chavira made a putback layup after Monday missed one of his own to give the Falcons their first lead since early in the third, making it 47-45.
Fort Osage senior guard Miles Dunfield tied it again with two free throws, but Jermey Paige gave Van Horn (3-3) another two-point lead with a wide-open layup after Monday passed him the ball out of a double team. Turner countered with a layup off an assist from Braden Pottberg tie it again. Both teams had two scoreless possessions before Myers and Turner made the winning play.
Scoring was at a premium in the first half as Fort Osage raced out to an 11-0 lead. Van Horn came back with a 9-0 run of its own to make it 11-9 going into the second quarter.
Both teams continued to struggle shooting as Fort Osage carried a narrow 15-14 lead into halftime. Pottberg started opening things up in the third when he scored 11 of his 15 points in the third, including a trio of 3-pointers. He helped the Indians lead by as many as eight.
“He was all mad in the locker room at halftime, and I told him, ‘Hey bro, just shoot your shot and it will go in.’ I will get your rebound if you miss.’” Turner said. “He started shooting his shot and good things started happening from there.”
For Van Horn coach Max Sollars, his team still has a lot of work to do, he said.
“It comes down to finding ourselves,” Sollars said. “I just never coached people who are so obsessed with themselves as opposed to winning. Right now, we’re so concerned with our individual accolades, that we’re not going to beat the average teams.
“We don’t get in that position at the end if we just execute and play hard.”
Dunfield was the other Indian in double figures with 11 points. Tanis led Van Horn with 13 points and Joshua Anzaldo added 10.