Having watched his team give up a fourth-quarter lead on a three-point play, Fort Osage boys basketball coach Josh Wilson wanted to see a big-time basket from the Indians.

Having watched his team give up a fourth-quarter lead on a three-point play, Fort Osage boys basketball coach Josh Wilson wanted to see a big-time basket from the Indians.

In this case, “big” needn’t refer to the distance from which the shot came, as Fort Osage had missed its previous 12 attempts from behind the 3-point arc in Tuesday’s first-round matchup with Kearney in the William Jewell Holiday Classic.

But the Indians got “big” on both counts, then made a clutch defensive stand to help preserve a 46-42 win over the Bulldogs and earn a Thursday night semifinal date with Rockhurst.

Fort Osage (3-4) had just lost a 35-32 lead when Charles Head scored twice off inbound plays for Kearney (5-2), the second one starting from halfcourt and ending with a free throw for a three-point play with 2:57 left.

Fifteen seconds later, Brian Starr let fly with a 30-footer from the right wing, just in front the Fort Osage bench. The Indians’ first 3-pointer gave them the lead for good at 38-36, and after a Kearney turnover and foul, Lazerus Wooten caught Starr’s baseline inbound and buried a corner 3-ball to make it 41-36 with just more than two minutes to play.

  “I was thinking that we needed a big shot at a big time,” Starr said. “I didn’t realize how far back I was.

“I just saw the defense was lagging off (Wooten),” he said of the next possession, “and I was thinking that was the best option.”

While Starr’s shot might have seemed ill-advised, Wilson simply figured his team was due at some point.

“I don’t think we made any the last game,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘We’ve gotta get one of those to fall eventually.’ It just happened to be a 35-footer.

“We’ve been in a drought from out top. Seeing how they were playing us on defense, I said, ‘You might as well step up and try it.’”

Even with those shots, Fort Osage needed some heroics from D’Vante Mosby to complete the victory.

An offensive rebound allowed Kearney to get three free throws in one trip after Wooten’s trey.

As his team navigated Kearney’s traps on defense, Wilson asked for a timeout just before Starr’s jump pass to Zach Adams for a would-be dunk. But two fouls later Mosby exonerated his coach, sinking both ends of one-and-one with 58 seconds left.

John Griffin’s 3-pointer at the other end and Starr’s missed free throw gave Kearney a chance to win it. But Eric Farley misfired from long range and Mosby rejected Head’s driving attempt after an offensive board.

Starr rebounded the blocked shot and drained both ends of a one-and-one to make it 45-42, and Mosby made the clinching free throw after rebounding a Kearney miss.

While Starr and Wooten hit the game-changing shots, Fort Osage had to climb a bigger mountain to even have a shot in the end.

The Indians led 11-7 at the first stop and pushed the margin to 17-9 on two baskets from Mosby (13 points) and his assist to Wooten, but they scored just once more in the second quarter.

 Farley hit from long range on three straight possessions to give Kearney the lead, then added four free throws to help produce a 24-19 halftime score.

Farley finished with 22 points, but he shot just two of nine in the second half.

“He got hot, and that’s what he can do for us,” Kearney coach Gary Belcher said. “We just kept trying to go to him while he stayed hot. And then they did a better job of getting into him and defending him better.

“We were flat, and I don’t know if it was the layoff or whatever. I think Fort Osage had something to do with that as well. We just couldn’t get things going. Then we hit some shots, got the lead, had some energy, but we just couldn’t sustain it.”

Instead, with the score at 27-23, Adams scored twice to start the Indians’ 8-2 run to finish the third.

““That was the thing at halftime,” Wilson. “We’ve taken it on the chin; now how do we respond? We’d done it already, building the eight-point lead.”

In a game where neither team shot 40 percent from the floor, Adams had eight rebounds and Mosby and Austin Regier seven apiece as Fort Osage owned a 35-27 rebounding advantage. Wooten’s 11 points and Starr’s nine backed Mosby in the scoring column.

“It’s a huge confidence booster after losing three in a row,” Wilson said. “The bench was into it and happy, and it was an entire good mood for us.”