The Osage Indians defeated the Anchorage Christian Lions in the Linn Invitational Tuesday, Dec. 14, by the final score of 73-50.
Osage started the game in strong fashion, using excellent ball movement to get players open and find lanes to the basket, scoring often in the opening minutes of the game. The Indians defense also prevented any scoring by forcing the Lions into taking difficult shots by closing out any opportunities under the rim and got a number of steals thanks to the pressure they were putting on the Lions. With only a couple minutes left in the first, Osage had built up an 11-2 lead and were firmly in control of the game. However, Anchorage Christian finished out those last two minutes on an impressive run. The Lions got turnovers, scored quickly and effectively, put enough pressure on Osage to keep them from scoring, and by the end of the quarter had managed to tie the game at 11.
In the beginning of the second quarter, Anchorage Christian continued their strong play and although Osage was also finding ways to score again, the Lions took a slim lead. The Indians fortunes turned around after about three minutes of play when their defense returned to form and prevented the Lions from scoring inside and by picking off the stretch passes the Lions were attempting to quickly get the ball up court. In short order, Osage had once more regained control of the game thanks to their defense and by getting more second chance points from good offensive rebounding. The Lions offense continued to try to push the pace of play and score by making long passes to get players open on the break, but more often than not their passes either sailed out of bounds or found their way into the hands of an Indians defender. The game picked up steam in the last minutes of the half with both teams trading possession after taking quick shots and getting back on offense for another attempt. Osage played well and made a few three-point shots to open the game up, taking a 32-21 point lead at halftime.
The third quarter was more closely fought than the second, but the Indians still came out ahead, outscoring the Lions 17-14 in the quarter. Osage slowed their game down a bit, getting set up on offense and taking more three-point shots, while Anchorage Christian stuck with their fast-paced strategy of having players break up court as soon as they got the ball back to try and get easy, undefended points. The Lions strategy ran into some trouble because the Indians were doing a good job of closing off their passing options and playing strong defense under the net. By the end of the third, Osage had extended their lead to 49-35.
The game’s final quarter saw Osage put on a dominant performance to put away the Lions. Although the Indians didn’t press as much on defense as they have previously, perhaps due to Anchorage Christian’s tendency toward making long passes out of their own end, they still got plenty of steals and subsequent points off those turnovers. The Indians also focused more heavily on scoring inside in the final quarter, and of the 24 points they scored in the fourth, 16 were in the paint. Osage also benefitted from being in bonus and picked up another six points on free throws. After outscoring the Lions 24-15 in the fourth quarter, the Indians won the game by the final of 73-50.
Brockton McLaughlin led his team in scoring for the night, going 11 for 17 with 25 points, four rebounds, and two assists. McLaughlin also contributed on defense with six steals. Grant Steen had an effective game on offense as well, with 21 points including nine from three-point shots, seven rebounds, and two assists.
As a team, Osage shot 48.2 percent from the field in the game, including 30.8 percent from three-point range, and made 51.7 percent of the free throws they attempted. The Indians demonstrated the benefits of their aggressive brand of defense by getting 15 steals and forcing 30 total turnovers. They also had two blocks, six deflections, and 22 defensive rebounds.
With their win, Osage is now 4-2 for the season, pending the results of their continuing participation in the Linn Invitational. They will next play on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at home against the Camdenton Lakers at 7 p.m.