The Fort Osage boys basketball team seemed to have a lot going for it in Thursday’s game against Staley.
Senior forward Xavier Kahube came back from a heel injury and appeared they would be able to keep up with the No. 1-seeded Falcons in the first round of the Nelson Division bracket in the William Jewell Holiday Classic.
But Staley was too quick, too fast and too good in the first game of the day at the Mabee Center as the Falcons rolled to a 69-33 win.
Fort Osage will take on Blue Springs South at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the Nelson consolation semifinals. Staley will take on Center in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Falcons applied pressure on the Indians all game and it worked to perfection. Fort Osage committed a whopping 32 turnovers and shot just 36.4 percent from the field. Staley guards Kyan Evans and Kenrick Stone terrorized Indian ball handlers, combining for eight of the team’s 19 steals.
“We talked a lot about taking care of the ball in practice,” Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson said. “We didn’t do that well at all. When you give a good team opportunities to score, which they usually do, it’s going to take away from our offensive possessions.
“They trapped us and they used their ahleticism. That was something that we knew was coming. We couldn’t replicate what they did to us in practice. We had some guys get their first experience looking at that. What we did in practice was different than what we actually saw.”
The Falcons led 17-8 after the first period and expanded the lead to 32-20 by halftime. Fort Osage led 3-0 after a 3-pointer from Braden Pottberg, 6-5 after a trey from Miles Dunfield and 8-7 after a rebound a putback from Kahube. After that, it was all Staley.
The No. 1 seed blew the game open in the third period behind Byron Alexander’s 10-third quarter points. Each time he drove to the basket, he was too quick for the Fort Osage defense to stop him as he seemingly got to the basket at will. Alexander ended up with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds.
“I was excited for Byron,” Staley coach Chris Neff said. “A lot of times, you just want the talented kids to play hard. When the talented kid plays hard, they are going to have a lot of success.”
Not only was Alexander’s performance a boost, Staley scored 26 points following Indian turnovers.
“We are not going to take it away from the handler or a dribbler,” Neff said. “Triston (Turner) is a problem for us because we have to put a big on him and he handles the ball well. We tried to defend other people and make it hard for Triston to pass. I think he’s a prolific passer. We got fortunate on some turnovers.
“(Pressuring and trapping) is what we do. We tried to guard the passing lanes.”
Pottberg led Fort Osage (3-3) with seven points and Turner had six. Dominic Myers had a team-high seven rebounds for the Indians.