OSBORN, Mo. — Tyler Blay has been one of the bright spots in what has been a tough start to the season for the West Nodaway Rockets. So it would only be fitting for the sophomore to be there to make the go-ahead shot with 15 seconds left in the game to give the Rockets a 44-42 win over the Osborn Wildcats.
“It feels good to get a 'W' under our belts, a second one, it’s been a while,” Rockets coach Kolton Jones said.
West Nodaway has struggled with getting off to a quick start in games this season; the Rockets had no such trouble against the Wildcats’ defense. Tyler Blay hit a 3-pointer on the Rockets’ first possession, Elijah Sanders had two on the second possession and then another 3-pointer from Blay had West Nodaway leading 8-2 early.
Osborn quickly closed the gap with a 3-pointer from Samuel Dorton and a 2-pointer from Colin Sanderson. Blay answered the Wildcats’ 5-0 run by making one of two free throws and then hit his third 3-pointer of the first quarter. Osborn again closed the gap and trailed just 14-13 after the first quarter.
The scoring eased up just a bit in the second quarter. Osborn tied the game with a free throw to start, but Blay gave his team the lead right back with two free throws.
West Nodaway’s Parker Ogle ignited the offense after a slow start to the quarter by scoring five-straight for the Rockets.
“I felt like I needed to step up and work harder,” Ogle said. “When I set everything aside and focus on playing, things fall into place and tonight was one of those nights.”
Dawson Fast and Wyatt Ingraham added on a basket each to make it a 9-0 run for the Rockets. Osborn added a three right before the end of the half to ended West Nodaway’s run. The Rockets led the Wildcats 25-19 at halftime.
“We went back and watched film to see what worked the last time we played them, and we thought we would just do what we did to them last time,” Jones said. “Well, it didn’t work and so we tried to slow things down and run the spread offense.”
The Wildcats grabbed the momentum right from the start in the second half; Osborn went on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 27 each. From there, the two teams traded baskets for the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter.
Ingraham gave the Rockets the lead early in the fourth quarter, making one of two free throws. That free throw was the start of another run for West Nodaway. Elijah Sanders, Blay and Ogle each did their part in stretching the lead to 41-37 with 1:36 left in the game.
Osborn struggled to hit 3-pointers all night, but one of their rare threes cut the lead to one with just over a minute left in the game. The Rockets then turned the ball over on their next possession, allowing Osborn to take its first lead of the game with 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“I was frustrated, nervous and scared,” Ogle said.
The lead did not last long for the Wildcats. The Rockets took a timeout and then let Blay take care of the rest.
“When I called that last timeout, I looked straight at Tyler and asked him if he was feeling it,” Jones said. “He said yes and everybody did their jobs to make that happen, it wasn’t a one-man thing, everybody executed to make that happen.”
The West Nodaway defense held strong at the other end, forcing a long 3-point attempt that went far right of the rim.
“I’m feeling pretty excited, we’ve had a hard time lately and so it was great getting the 'W,'” Ogle said. “Everyone was pumped and excited after the game.”
The Rockets will complete a three-game road stretch next week, traveling to Rock Port Tuesday and then Union Star on Thursday.
“We saw a glimpse of great tonight,” Jones said. “We’ve still got a lot to work on, but these boys have grit. What more could you ask for?”