Wood earns MVP as Indians erase 8-point deficit in fourth quarter to pull out the win

School of the Osage was tested once again on Saturday afternoon at the Laker Shootout in Camdenton against Father Tolton. 

The Indians had already played in an overtime game at Richland on Tuesday, but decided one overtime game a week was simply not enough. Osage passed its first test with a win against the Bears and did so again on Saturday as they erased an 8-point fourth quarter deficit and fought for a 61-58 win in extra minutes against the Crusaders. 

“It was our seventh game in 10 days and I thought, let’s just play one more. Why wouldn’t we?” Rowland joked about the overtime period. “I was really impressed and I told them that the fortitude they showed- I’m not saying this was a battle or war or something like that, but it was a hard-fought game… I thought they just did an excellent job and that we handled the end of regulation and overtime really well.” 

There was not much separation between the two sides as both teams were tied at 20 after the first half, but Father Tolton managed to flip a 5-point Osage lead in the third quarter and turn it into a 46-38 advantage by the start of the fourth. Not having much size, the Crusaders effectively utilized their long-range shooters and started knocking down 3-pointers so Rowland knew he would need to make adjustments. The Indians started using a full court man-to-man press and it managed to slow down a little bit of Father Tolton’s momentum. 

“They (Father Tolton) put two people in the corner and it just puts too much pressure on our back person. You cannot stop a drive and get out 20 feet away (to guard the shooter) so we went full court man-to-man pretty quickly,” Rowland remarked. “There were still a few possessions of zone just to try and give them a different look, but they went dribble-drive and kick out and hit three-pointers with people in their face. The third quarter was one of the most impressive quarters I’ve seen, but I was really glad that our girls did not get down when we were down a few, just kept chipping away and stayed with it.” 

Meanwhile on the offensive end, the game plan for Osage was to attack and get to the rim or draw a foul. Fortunately for the Indians, this strategy worked out well as several Crusaders ended up in foul trouble and eventually fouled out. At the same time, Osage was able to continue to chop down the deficit at the free throw line when finding an open shooter may have been difficult. 

“We conversely figured that we do not hardly shoot any 3-pointers so we wanted to go and try to attack. I thought we did a really nice job and a lot of us were really looking to turn the corner and attack,” Rowland noted. “It got them in foul trouble so it made the end of the game a lot better for us, not to have their stars out there.” 

Osage eventually cut the deficit to a single point with under a minute to play and junior Carson Wood managed to draw a foul and go to the free throw line with 6.7 seconds left on the clock. Wood knocked down the first free throw to tie it and missed the second after Father Tolton called a timeout to try and ice her. The Crusaders proceeded to line up a game-winner, but it clanked off the metal rim and four extra minutes were put on the clock. 

“I had been having a little bit of a rough game so my teammates did a really good job of keeping me up,” said Wood who was named MVP after putting up 12 points for the Indians. “So, I definitely wanted to do my part and make it. I was really happy I made the first one and was a little disappointed with the second, but I’m glad I have this good of a team that we can come back from it.” 

Rowland certainly did not blame her for missing the second shot from the charity stripe. 

“You feel bad for Carson not having made that one, but really that is something that does not happen very often. That is tough to do and you see it on television where they make one (free throw) and call a timeout to ice the shooter,” the coach pointed out. “There is something to it because you are off your rhythm and how often do I make them practice shooting one, taking a break and shooting another? We don’t do that, but maybe we should, and if she does not make the first one it is a moot point because there is a ton of pressure on the second one.” 

Still, the momentum had shifted back to Osage by this point and the Indians did not let it escape in the overtime period, making four of their five field goals in the final four minutes and knocking down two of their three free throws. The Crusaders took the lead twice, but Osage managed to tie it back up each time.

Then, Osage took the lead for good. 

Osage senior Kenzie King managed to pick up a steal and just when it looked like she was dribbling the ball back out to set up the offense, she darted a pass to junior Kerrigan Gamm under the basket who proceeded to finish a 3-point play by drawing a foul while making a shot. Father Tolton lined up one final 3-pointer, but it would not fall as the Indians collected the rebound and ran the clock out. 

“I saw the (Father Tolton) girl turn her head back to the right and I just knew there was an open lane,” said Gamm who led the Indians with 18 points. “It was a great pass and I don’t think it could have gotten any better. What a wonderful steal that was, it was definitely clutch.

“This is probably the most fun I’ve had so far all season.” 

Osage senior Rose Colonius knocked down 12 points and King was the fourth Indian in double figures while fellow senior Payton Good nearly reached double-digits with nine points of her own to help her team outlast the Crusaders. Rowland was proud of his team’s resiliency and will be looking for his club to show that same fight going forward. 

“We talked in the locker room about the guts they showed. We played those seven games in 10 days and they were not against easy teams,” the coach noted. “We saw Richland twice who is 14-5, Blair Oaks who has only lost to us twice, Cuba is good and obviously Father Tolton is really good. To go through that stretch 5-2 is a good sign and now, we just have to maintain it. We don’t play near as many games in February, but we just have to maintain it and maybe add another little bit to keep getting better for districts.” 

Wood, for one, did not take Saturday’s win lightly. 

“I think it really shows that we have a lot of fight and a lot of heart, even when the going gets tough,” she stated. “We’ve had a really tough week, so coming off a big loss against Blair Oaks and going into two overtime games and pulling out the wins, that is really going to help us out.” 

Osage (14-5, 1-1 Tri-County Conference) will return to the floor Monday night to host Warsaw in a conference battle at 7 p.m. For Gamm, the goal going forward is clear. 

“Make sure we all stay healthy and rested, just keep working hard and keep doing what we do,” the junior said of what it will take to be successful.