Osage boys Conference Tournament

The Osage Indians defeated the Boonville Pirates to take third-place in their final game of the Tri-County Conference Tournament Saturday, Dec. 4, 73-58. 

As the Indians have proven so capable of doing thus far in the season, they came out fast and played exceedingly well on offense and defense to begin the game. While their typical defensive strategy of trapping their opponent in the defensive end of the court didn’t work quite as well as usual against Boonville, they still managed to keep the Pirates off balance on offense and get a few steals early on. On offense the Indians did a good job of working the ball inside and out and around the perimeter. Boonville did well to prevent many inside scoring chances for the Indians, but that may have been a blessing to Osage as they took and made a number of three-point shots by getting players open outside. After a successful first quarter, the Indians led 24-14.

Osage had some difficulties in the second quarter, particularly on offense. While the Indians had been able to net quite a few points from outside the three-point arc in the first, they missed all six shots they took from long range in the second and had their overall shooting percentage drop by nearly half from 50 percent to just 26.3 percent. Points were at a premium for the Indians and Boonville figured out how to get around their press, giving the Pirates plenty of fast break points as they slowly narrowed Osage’s lead. Although Osage had a trying quarter, their defense was still able to limit the damage, particularly by getting key turnovers and limiting the Pirates time of possession despite their own struggles on offense. The troubles the Indians were having were not due to poor offensive approach, they were still moving the ball well and getting good looks, but nevertheless they were having a hard time getting the shots they did take to fall. With only second left in the first half, Boonville was threatening to cut their deficit to just four points, but a big block by the Indians and a defensive rebound kept the score where it was and the two teams went into halftime with Osage up 35-29. 

In the third quarter, Boonville continued to play into their speed and get behind Osage’s defense on a number of occasions. The trend of the Indians’ defense not being able to completely shut down Boonville but still making big plays with turnovers and rebounds carried over from the second quarter, but as they were unable to dominate on defense their offense returned to form. Osage immediately broke out offensively, widening what had become a rather slim lead very quickly with effective three-point shooting. Their shooting percentage in the quarter jumped back up to 50 percent and they made four of the nine three-pointers they attempted. Though the Indians’ offense improved markedly, the Pirates were able to keep pace and by the end of the third quarter Osage had increased their lead by just two points to 54-46. 

For the first five minutes or so of the final quarter of the game, Boonville kept things interesting. The Pirates kept up their fast play and traded points with Osage, eventually managing to trim the Indians’ lead to just four points, 62-58, with about three minutes left in the game. At this point, Osage was in danger of losing control of a game they had led virtually since it began, but just as the momentum seemed to be on the Pirates’ side, the Indians stepped up at this critical point. In less than a minute, the Indians took the ball down the court and got a quick two points inside, stole the ball back after Boonville inbounded and promptly scored again, and after getting the defensive rebound following a missed three-point shot by the Pirates, went back down on offense and scored yet again. In the blink of an eye, a game that Boonville was threatening to take over in its last few minutes turned into one where Osage now held a 10-point lead. After another Boonville turnover on their next possession, Osage tacked on an additional three to make the score 71-58 with less than two minutes in the game. The Indians shutout the Pirates over the last couple of minutes and won by the sizable margin of 73-58 thanks to their late-game scoring.

With the win Osage now holds a 3-1 record for the season, including a 2-1 performance good for third place in the Tri-County Conference Tournament. The Indians will be in action again on Friday, Dec. 10, at home against the Richland Bears at 7 p.m.

The Lake Sun