Fort Osage senior Xavier Kahube missed a handful of games to start the 2019-20 boys basketball season due to an ankle injury – and his team missed him.
The Indians were without the 6-foot-6 forward, a centerpiece of their offense and one of their best rebounders, and that forced 6-foot-5 senior forward Triston Turner to post up more than he wanted.
Now Kahube is the healthiest he’s been all year and that bodes well for Fort Osage going into the district tournament next week. He proved his value on Senior Night, scoring a game-high 22 points and making key plays to help the Indians squeak out a 79-75 home win over Belton Thursday.
“I broke my leg before that, too,” Kahube said of what happened prior to the ankle injury. “At first I didn’t get surgery and I waited two months. It wasn’t healing right, so I had to get surgery. It’s been crazy.”
Turner is certainly happy to have Kahube back in the lineup.
“It lets me display more of my game,” Turner said. “It lets me move without the ball and that’s what I like doing – cutting and stuff. I can defend a guard or a wing now and there’s someone who can protect the rim other than me.”
The win snapped an eight-game losing streak as the Indians overcame an early 14-point deficit.
Midway through the third quarter, Kahube received a feed inside from Turner off a backdoor cut and threw down a one-handed slam.
“It got us started and got everyone hyped up,” Kahube said of his dunk.
Fort Osage went into the third quarter up 59-53, but a 13-2 run by the Pirates in the fourth quarter – capped by a 3-pointer from Richard Craddock III – put the Pirates ahead 66-61. The Indians countered with a 9-2 spurt that ended with Kahube sinking two free throws to put his team up for good at 70-68.
Up 75-72, Kahube made one of the most important plays of the game. Turner was holding the ball at the top of the key, trying to milk the clock. A Belton defender poked the ball away and the ball clanked off the rim.
Kahube gathered the ball off the ricochet and made a layup for a five-point lead.
“At first, me and him were looking at each other because he was going to pass it to me,” Kahube said. “But someone hit it out. Fortunately it went to me and I got the layup.”
Craddock nailed a trey to cut Fort Osage’s lead to 77-75 with 22.9 seconds left.
After Fort Osage inbounded the ball on the ensuing possession, senior guard Eli Parker caught the ball near half-court and was immediately double-teamed. He jumped up and lobbed a pass to junior guard Braden Pottberg, who spun around a Pirate defender and made the layup to put it away with 5 seconds left.
“I was OK with that one because we broke the press and it was a two-on-one, and it was a shot he could make,” Fort coach Josh Wilson said of Pottberg’s big bucket. “I wasn’t happy with our other quick shots that got us in trouble.”
It was a good night for all the seniors. Turner finished with 16 points. Miles Dunfield had four key assists in the second half. Eli Parker hit a key 3-pointer in the third, and Colston Martinez ended the third quarter with a pair of layups.
“Our five seniors did an unbelievable job. I am proud of them,” Wilson said. “This was their last chance to put on a white jersey because next week, we will be wearing red. This was the last time in this gym, so just make it special.”
Fort Osage trailed 24-14 in the first quarter and were behind 42-35 at halftime before seizing momentum in the second half. The Indians were able to hold on despite Turner and Kahube being out of the game with four fouls each early in the fourth.
“I am just happy to see my boys in our last home game,” Dunfield said. “We had to go out with a bang.
“We needed help down low, but got the job done. When they both got their fourth foul, I just told the guys to get the ball, play their game and go.”
Added Kahube: “I have been playing with these guys since fifth grade. It’s crazy this is our last home game together.”
Freshman forward Larenzo Fenner chipped in with 13 points for the Indians.