Big run propels Indians past Rangers

Sometimes the best antidote for size disadvantage on the basketball court is getting up and down the floor. 

In a game between School of the Osage and Highway 42 neighbor Iberia Friday night, it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered as the Indians pulled away from the Rangers for a 65-49 win. 

“We’ve always kind of as a team had a thing were we just say, ‘We go out there, play at our pace and our game,’ and that always kind of works for us,” said Osage junior Sydney Riley who knocked down a team-leading trio of 3-pointers on her way to a 15-point night. “We’ve done that since about second grade. 

“When we have the smaller size, we’ve learned that some big girls are not as fast as the smaller girls so we definitely used that to our advantage in the later quarters.”

Good thing, too, because it took some time for the Indians to find that pace.

A slow start allowed the visiting Rangers to jump out to a 13-7 lead in the first quarter for their largest lead of the night before the Indians stormed back for their first lead at 16-15 with six minutes left in the half.  

Osage led 25-22 at the break and proceeded to turn things up a notch in the third quarter as a 17-4 run ultimately put the Rangers out of range. A slim 3-point halftime lead grew to 13 by the start of the final frame and put the game out of reach. Like any good run, solid defensive play was the catalyst in making that happen and the Indians managed to force a total of 16 turnovers against Iberia while giving up 12. 

“I thought the girls, for being outsized almost every game, are starting to figure out how they need to play and what they need to do to make it tough for those big girls to score,” Osage coach Scott Rowland said, commending the efforts of juniors Sara Wolf, Paige Rowland Liberty Gamm in the post while also pointing out how vital it was to get pressure on the guards as well.

The Indians contended with a post player from Iberia in freshman Laney Halley who stood over six feet while Osage’s tallest player on the floor stood at 5-foot-10.

“I thought we did a pretty good job on 32 (Halley) and 11 (Paige Spencer), man that girl has a motor and just goes,” Rowland continued. “She can be strong inside. I thought we limited them, made them take some tough shots and then we started getting some things in transition.” 

The transition game was undoubtedly the final ingredient as pushing the ball up the floor for some quick layups was certainly easier than dealing with a tall zone defense. However, the halfcourt game was also fueled by Osage’s six 3-pointers on the night.

“I don’t think we were ready to go and they were. You could just tell, we just missed a ton of shots and that was partly them,” Rowland noted of the first half. “That run in the third quarter, we are starting to get 3-pointers from Reese (Good) and Sydney and then transition buckets in front of the net is huge.”

Wolf led the Indians with 19 points while Gamm chipped in 16 points of her own. Junior Ella DeMott finished the night with six points, Good had five and junior Alisa Boswell added four to round out the scoring.

“In the second half we calmed down a little bit and really found each other as teammates and knew how to play,” Wolf pointed out. “Sydney knocked down some shots and when someone was off, another person showed up and did well for us. It was an all-around good win.”  

Speaking of showing up, 17 of the 19 points Wolf scored on the night came in the fourth quarter alone to dissuade any chance for an Iberia comeback. Rowland took some time to commend Gamm on the offensive end as well.  

“Liberty works her tail off and does a good job inside, in fact a really good job because she is 5-foot-10,” the coach noted. “She is strong but not a real thick girl so she is constantly at a disadvantage. Even at the same size, she is going to have to use her quickness and that is kind of the thing we are going to have to use in general. I think we have to try and at least move the ball up and down, try to get a first good look, take it and hope it goes in.” 

Osage (4-5) gets to start 2020 on a positive note and will be visiting Linn on Monday at 6 p.m.

“We have a game at Linn and then we go to Buffalo which are two good teams we can compete with. Then we start conference play with Hallsville,” Rowland said, looking ahead. “Tough one to start with because they are having a good year and beat us once in overtime.  

“I like where we are. I like us getting better and other people stepping up and knocking down shots so I think we are in a good place.”