The Fort Osage girls basketball team saw Park Hill South drain a few three-pointers in the first quarter but was undaunted by those early treys.
The Indians stuck to their zone defense Friday evening, and that carried them to a 51-39 victory over Park Hill South in the Gold Division championship game of the Winnetonka Invitational tournament.
Fort Osage limited Park Hill South to a total of five points in the second and third quarters. The defense and the inside play of juniors Paige Bunn and Amellia Tinoco added up to an impressive performance for the Indians.
“This was great because we haven’t won this tournament in many years,” Bunn said. “It feels so good.”
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It was a bit of revenge for Fort Osage, which lost its season opener at Park Hill South on Nov. 24. Since then, the Indians have won three straight. Park Hill South suffered its first loss in four games.
The Panthers started off well. Back-to-back three-pointers by Erica Timmerman and Mackenzie Stout staked Park Hill South a 10-4 lead.
“We needed to pick up our defense and get out on the threes,” Bunn said. “I didn’t think the zone was going to work.”
It did. After Timmerman hit a three-pointer that made it 13-8, the Indians shut down Park Hill South.
“We were a little concerned,” Fort Osage coach Dawn Williams said. “We knew No. 5, Stout was a shooter. I also thought No. 15 (Timmerman) shot the ball well. We wanted to find those two or three kids that could shoot it and dare the others a little bit.
“Because we have played them before, I think I felt more comfortable sticking with the zone.”
Fort Osage scored the last four points in the first quarter and then took control in the second quarter. It started with a three-pointer by Samantha Trimmer, making it 15-13. Tinoco took over from there, scoring six points in the second quarter. The Indians went into halftime ahead 24-17.
“They are a lot like us,” Williams said of Park Hill South. “They are a scrappy team. The biggest difference between the first time and this game is they owned the boards in the first game. I thought we did a much better job on the boards this time. Our main emphasis going into this game is we knew we had to control the glass.”
Park Hill South remained cold in the third quarter, scoring one point on a free throw by Grace Cunningham.
Meanwhile, Bunn scored seven points in the third quarter, and Tinoco added four more. By the start of the fourth quarter Fort Osage had complete control with a 37-18 lead.
The shots finally started falling for the Panthers in the fourth quarter. Stout scored seven of her team-high 12 points in the last quarter.
But the increased offense by Park Hill South wasn’t nearly enough to counter what Bunn and Tinoco did throughout the game. Bunn made all seven of her free throws and finished with a game-high 18, and Tinoco added 14.
“They did a great job,” Williams said. “Paige has been a starter since she was a freshman. Amellia did not play at all last year because she blew out her knee. She is showing in practice more growth every day.”