816 Sports

January 22, 2014

816 basketball notebook: Meeting helps Fort Osage boys turn tide

Fort Osage boys basketball team notch a dramatic win in championship game of Kearney Classic.

After a fourth loss in five games, Fort Osage High School junior point guard Will Penamon approached his coach with an idea that he thought might help turn things around. He asked permission to hold a players only meeting.

“Will came to me, and honestly, I’m not a big fan of players only meetings,” Indians coach Josh Wilson said. “But he wanted to bring the guys in there and talk about last year — how it wasn’t about individual performances and how the team was bigger than any one person.”

The message seems to have sunk in. The Indians haven’t lost in four games since the meeting.

Fort Osage won the Kearney Classic in dramatic fashion last Saturday, defeating the host Bulldogs 59-56 in the championship game, when Penamon nailed a three-pointer as time expired.

“That does nothing but raise our conference level,” Wilson said. “Will had been kind of quiet, but he knocked down some huge shots in the tournament. That’s what we need from him. And other guys have started to step up, too.”

That has offered much-needed supporting roles to sophomore Skylar Thompson, who averages 16.4 points per game, and senior Brian Starr, who averages 11.6. The two are also the team’s leading rebounders.

After the emotional victory, the Indians, now with a 9-5 record, will enjoy a week off. They return to action next Tuesday at North Kansas City.

Boys game of week: Oak Park at Raytown, 7 p.m. Tuesday

Here’s a statistic not many would have predicted: Raytown is the only remaining undefeated team in the Suburban White Conference. Why does that come as a surprise? Well, the Blue Jays finished 6-18 last season.

They have easily eclipsed last season’s win total, having improved to 9-4 overall and 4-0 in the conference with a 69-59 victory against rival Raytown South on Monday at the Sprint Center, a game in which forward Jailen Gill scored 20 points in a dominant low-post performance. Gill, a 6-foot-7 junior, is averaging 16.1 points per game.

The victory kept the Blue Jays atop the league standings, but Oak Park is nipping at their heels. And that represents another surprise after the Northmen finished 5-7 in the league last season.

Oak Park has won three of its first four conference games and had a chance to pull even with Raytown with a road game Tuesday. It’s a difficult task, but Oak Park will be hindered as it continues to play without leading scorer Ryan Jackson, who has a thumb fracture.

Girls game of the week: Lee’s Summit North at Liberty, 7 p.m. Monday

If this is truly the year to end the Blue Springs dynasty in the Suburban Gold Conference, Lee’s Summit North, Liberty and Blue Springs South are the teams with the best shot to do it.

But they will have to do more than beat Blue Springs. They will have to fare well against one another, too.

Lee’s Summit North, 10-2, faces a string of 10 straight conference games with a trip to Liberty. Both of the Broncos’ losses this season were to Truman by a combined eight points. Lee’s Summit North is led by double-double machine Imani Johnson in the post.

Liberty, meanwhile, has some catching up to do after dropping its conference home opener to Blue Springs, a four-point loss. But in a tightly-competitive league, there’s plenty of time to play catch up.

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