Osage’s late run helps Indians boys basketball outpace Versailles
Both School of the Osage and Versailles had an idea of what they might be able to expect Friday night.
After previously meeting in the Eldon Tournament nearly a week prior- a game where the two teams combined for 198 points- it would likely be another fast-paced game with full-court presses and big numbers on the scoreboard.
Well, Friday night’s Tri-County Conference meeting did not disappoint and for the second time this season, the Indians found a way to prevail with a 101-88 win on the road.
“The first time we beat them we were able to break the press and get enough layups and enough free throws to stay ahead. It seemed tonight was kind of the same way,” Osage coach Craig Engelbrecht said.
“The boys just found heart every time they made a run at us.”
Making runs is something Versailles is fairly accustomed to in their style of play featuring non-stop pressing and quickly getting shots up on the offensive end, mostly a barrage of 3-pointers. Facing a 9-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, the Tigers went on a 9-1 run to tie the game at 81. However, a 16-3 Osage run in the final few minutes was a little too much to overcome for the Tigers.
“It would have been easy to fold up,” Englebrecht noted. “The guys made good passes, started taking the ball to the basket and finishing on layups so against at team like that you have to play basketball and we made basketball plays.”
It was a tough ending for Versailles, considering how the night started. The Tigers enjoyed an 8-point lead after the first quarter, but the visitors quickly stormed back and managed to take a 45-42 lead by halftime. Versailles never led in the fourth quarter.
“We turned the ball over a little too much and were a little loose with the ball, especially after that 1st quarter. Later in the game we got kind of crazy with it trying to make some passes we shouldn’t of,” Versailles coach Jason Ollison noted as his team finished with more than 20 turnovers on the evening. “More than anything, no matter where you are playing and what you are doing, the ball did not go in the hole. We had some nice easy looks from the arc and shots that we make almost every single night and they are hitting the back and front rim.
“To me, that is just a comfort level. We are pressing a little bit, feeling a little anxiety when we are shooting and it never makes it easy to shoot,” the coach continued. “We make four or five 3-pointers of those open looks we had and it is a whole different ballgame.”
Making a few of those open looks certainly would have helped, considering the way Osage was playing. The Indians had five players reach double figures and were led by junior Brockton McLaughlin’s 27 points on the night as he led all scorers.
Junior Grant Streen knocked down 18 points, junior Alton Drace added 16, senior Paven Clark chipped in 14 and sophomore Will Faulconer also reached double digits with 11 points. Both senior Quentin Britton and junior Dalton Stoecklein added seven points to fuel the offense.
“It is pretty fun to be a part of,” McLaughlin said of his team’s success on the offensive end. “We just knew to come out how we did last time, come out with a bunch of energy and we just found each other all night. It was just a good game overall.”
Engelbrecht felt there would certainly be opportunities for his players after the first meeting with Versailles and he commended the efforts across the board whether it was McLaughlin’s ability to drive to the basket, Drace handling the pressure of Versailles and executing the offense or the contributions of young players like Faulconer coming off the bench.
“We settled down after those first eight minutes. It looked like we were trying to run too fast, go too quickly and made turnovers,” the coach said as his team committed 11 of them alone in the first quarter. “I thought midway through the second we kind of hit our stride. It sees weird to slow down and score 100 points, but we slowed down enough and started looking up the floor. We had guys open all night ling, we just had our head down and were not getting the ball down the court to them.
“The whole team, they just fed off each other.”
For Ollison and company, a major point of emphasis is forcing opposing teams to their weak hand when they have possession. The coach said his players did a decent job of that early, but Osage made them pay down the stretch.
“As a coaching staff, we have to do a better job of making sure they understand that, especially when they are getting tired. I’m proud of my guys, they worked hard and gave it everything they had,” he stated. “We make a few more shots and do a better job as a staff of making sure they remember what the game plan is throughout the game, I think we’ll be alright.”
Both seniors Mikhail Gulyayev and Seth Newton paced Versailles with 21 points each, freshman Ryder Williams added 13, junior Kole Viebrock put up 10 and junior Eli Gulyayev finished with eight. Now, the Tigers will look to regroup for this final stretch of the season after this second meeting with the Indians.
“They (Osage) have a good squad and play hard. We are still trying to kind of figure out how we are going to make this work in the long term,” Ollison said. “The made some good adjustments and we tried to come out and make some adjustments with them. It just worked out this time that their adjustments worked better than ours.”
And it is possible these two sides can meet in the district tournament. Up next for Versailles (8-10, 0-3 Tri-County Conference) is a trip to Hallsville (8-7) on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and the main thing Ollison wants to impress upon his players is to keep having fun.
“The thing about it is, it is high school basketball. If we are not having fun and enjoying ourselves, then it is wrong,” he said. “It would be different if we were out here moping through and not trying to win and give it everything they had, but these guys are fighting for everything they can. Some nights, the other team is better and that is how it goes.
“The psychology part of this, especially with high school kids, is so important. It is important for them to understand a game does not define you and how you react to things and do things long term is what defines who you are as a man,” the coach continued. “Hopefully they’ll keep that in mind as we move forward because it is a serious thing in the middle of it, but when you look back you just want to have pleasant thoughts and feelings of your high school career and I hope these guys keep that frame in mind in place.”
Osage (7-10, 1-1 Tri-County Conference) had the motivation to take care of business Friday night with potential district seeding implications on the line and the Indians have now won three of their last four.
“We have to build off this. Most of the time we were kind of up and down between games and we just have to keep going up and trying to build on what we have,” McLaughlin said, looking ahead.
Up next is a trip to Fulton (12-2) on Monday at 6 p.m.
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-346-2132