Osage outlasts Salem in district semifinals

School of the Osage protected its lead Monday night.

The Indians took on Salem in Class 4 District 11 semifinals at Rolla and despite a barrage of 3-pointers from Salem, the comeback attempt would not come to fruition as Osage hit its free throws down the stretch and secured its spot in the district championship with a 58-50 win over the Tigers. It is the program’s fourth straight trip to the district championship game.

“We knew their strength was a 2-3 zone and towards the end we did not really want to stall because I think sometimes when you do that you go flat. We wanted them to have to come out and have to play us man-to-man and then we ran our delay game,” Osage coach Scott Rowland said of his team’s late-game strategy. “I thought our girls did a really good job of not dribbling when they did not need to and making good passes.”

Then there was the free throws where Osage finished 23 of 28 from the charity stripe, shooting 82 percent as a team. One Indian who had a particulary good night at the line was Carson Wood as she made 12 of her 14 free throw attempts en route to an 18-point performance to lead her team.

“You feel like you are going to be able to maintain a lead, even though they (Salem) shot the absolute lights out,” Rowland said of the free throws. “To her credit she (Wood) was 12 of 14, and she is not bad, but she is not quite that good a free throw shooter. For her to step up in a game like this, if she does not make those I don’t know that we are moving on to the championship game.”

But Wood was not the only contributor. With neither side being able to gain much of an advantage throughout the first half, Osage went to work in the second quarter when Salem’s 6-foot-3 center Baylee Bilyeu came out of the game with a little foul trouble. The Indians quickly took advantage, swinging a 5-point deficit into a 5-point lead.

“It was a huge momentum shift because we had been down and kind of stagnant and they had been playing really well. When Bilyeu got her second foul and we were able to up the pressure a little bit, I probably should have been doing that the whole time,” Rowland remarked. “To get them (Salem) sped up and make them make some turnovers, we could rebound it better and outlet (pass) better.

“That is a little bit more of who we are. We don’t mind slowing it down and playing the half court, but we want to intersperse up and down a little bit.”

Kerrigan Gamm finished with 17 points, Kenzie King chipped in nine and Payton Good knocked down six respectively to fuel the Osage offense as well. Having to deal with the size of a 6-foot-3 center, Rowland took some time to commend Gamm’s efforts on the floor.

“She had a huge game and the good thing about Kerrigan is she can play down low, post people up or can jump up the free throw line and shoot the 15-footer or attack,” the coach noted. “She is a pretty well-rounded player.”

Now, Osage will pursue its third district championship in four years after making the state quarterfinals a season ago. Standing in the way is a Rolla team (13-13) that will be on its home floor when the Indians and Bulldogs clash Friday night at 5 p.m. Rolla beat Helias Catholic 45-40 in the other semifinal game Monday night.

“I think Rolla has a 6-foot-2 (player) and 6-footer so long arms and smart players. They are young, but they have improved so much since last year,” Rowland said of the next opponent.

Dealing with some height once again, Rowland said the message is to keep playing if shots get blocked, perhaps creating more opportunities to get to the free throw line or find open shooters. To have any success at all offensively on Friday, the coach said better ball movement will be required.

“If we see zone again we are going to have to move better. I thought we were kind of stagnant against it and I did not think our cuts were real sharp,” the coach said of Monday night’s game. “We were not only standing, but when we cut we were kind of jogging and it was not enough to really make Salem have to move or react to us... I don’t think our movement was quite what it should be, but hopefully that is something we can work on and get better at by Friday.”

Camdenton advances to district championship in win over rival Lebanon

Camdenton is going back to the district championship game.

The top-seeded Lakers were in Class 5 District 10 action at Willard Monday night against Lebanon and Camdenton had little trouble dispatching its Highway 5 rival in a 76-57 win to advance to its first district title game since 2015.

Coley Rezabek paced the Lakers with 23 points while Shelby Kurtz and Natalie Basham both added 15 points each to fuel the Laker offense.

Camdenton improves to 18-7 with the win and will face the host team Willard (18-8) for the right to advance to the state sectionals (Sweet 16). Willard outlasted Waynesville 57-53 in the other semifinal game Monday night.

The last time the Lakers were in a district championship game they were able to take care of business and win the program’s first title in 30 years (1985). Now, the team will be looking for history to repeat itself when they take on the Tigers Friday night at 6 p.m.