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Eagles hold on late to knock off Indians, 40-37

Jan. 22—OSKALOOSA — After a two-week break of limited practice time and no games due to the poor winter weather, the Oskaloosa girls basketball team was finally back on the floor on Saturday afternoon for a make-up contest against Pella Christian. The first meeting was decided three points and the sequel had an equally thrilling ending with the Eagles coming away with a 40-37 victory.

"We kind of had a sour taste in our mouth from the last time around and felt like we kind of did what we needed to do to win that game and just didn't get it done," Pella Christian head coach Brendan Foughty said. "It's been a crazy week, we kind of had to game plan on the fly a little bit and I think that was kind of good for our kids to just go play. We definitely changed up our philosophy with our defense a little bit and our girls executed our game plan almost to perfection."

The game got underway with Oskaloosa looking to shake off some the rust while PC was back in action for the second time in less than 24 hours after facing a good Norwalk team the night before.

Both sides struggled to get going offensively early with Gracie DeRonde making a couple nice plays to get Osky on the board while a sister to sister bounce pass from Faith Kacmarynski to Rachel Kacmarynski cut the Indian lead to 6-4 over midway through the first quarter. Oskaloosa center Dasia Foster had a tough time getting going against PC's 2-3 zone and picked up a second foul late in the quarter to head to the bench. The Indians held a two-point lead before freshman Haylee Parker would heave one from halfcourt at the buzzer catching nothing but net to end the first with an exclamation mark and give her team a 13-8 lead.

The second quarter was controlled heavily by Pella Christian as their 2-3 zone continued to frustrate the Oskaloosa offense with turnovers and missed jumpers. The Eagles would outscore the Indians 11-0 in the second quarter and take a 19-13 advantage into the break.

Osky made some adjustments at the half and got baskets from Foster and Kassie Johnson to quickly cut the deficit to two.

"We moved Dasia from the high post back to the block after the first half," Oskaloosa head coach TC Cunningham said. "We're thinking that it's hard to double team at the high post so putting her there I thought maybe we'd get some good looks but they kind of just packed it in the paint. We switched it in the second half and put her on the block and we're able to get her better looks from there."

Foster later tied it with another layup with deep post position before PC ended the quarter on a 11-4 run with both Kacmarynski girls making shots from the mid-range.

The Eagles took a 30-23 lead to the fourth quarter as Oskaloosa would look to chip away at it and make a comeback. The lead slowly started to shrink from seven to three and eventually to two after a late Foster layup.

With 22 seconds to go Oskaloosa would need to play the foul game as Faith Kacmarynski would go to the free throw line for PC. She would end up splitting the pair of free throws to make it a three-point game as Parker quickly came down the other way and made a nice euro-step layup to slice it to a one-point game. Osky fouled Jessa De Vries next and the freshman calmly stepped to the line and splashed in both free throws to make it a three-point game again with six seconds left.

Oskaloosa would try to set up a play to drive and kick it out to the opposite corner for Parker but it was read well by Faith Kacmarynski and tipped out of bounds. Now with just two seconds on the clock, Osky would throw the baseline inbounds out towards to top of the arc where Parker would win the 50-50 ball and try to shoot a last second shot only to be highly contested by a pair of Eagle defenders.

The referees deemed to ball was blocked to the surprise of the Osky sideline and to the joy of the Pella Christian side as the buzzer sounded on a 40-37 triumph for the Eagles.

"We knew they were going to take Haylee away so we designed a play where it would look like we're penetrating and try to get them to suck in and kick it out but they got a hand on it knocked it out," Cunningham said. "Then we drew up another play for the last play and it is what it is, they didn't call it."

The Kacmarynski sisters combined for 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Rachel Kacmarynski had a double-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals while Faith Kacmarynski added 13 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block.

Oskaloosa struggled offensively in their first game in over two weeks shooting 31.4% from the floor and just 1-of-17 from three with that one being Parker's half-court shot. Foster had a double-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks while Parker finished with 11 points and five steals.

Saturday's result was the third time in the last four meetings between these two teams that the game was decided by three points or less. The PC win snapped a six-game losing streak to Oskaloosa and gave the Eagles a valuable close win for a young team with only one senior in the rotation.

"It's extremely valuable," Foughty said of the win. "Today was a game that felt really chaotic at times and I was just really proud of our kids for staying calm and staying steady. Our leaders kind of kept us kept us steady and we made big plays when we needed to. We had our big kids come up and make some huge shots. Karis Fikkert had a huge three late and Jessa De Vries goes to the line and makes two huge free throws. We just had some big plays from from a lot of players tonight and it was just really good for us to find a way to win a close one and really grind out a tough win."

Oskaloosa (7-4, 2-4 LHC) will try to bounce back when they travel to Indianola (4-10, 4-1 LHC) on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. while Pella Christian (5-9, 2-5 LHC) hosts No. 1 (4A) Dallas Center-Grimes (10-3, 3-0 LHC) on Monday at 6:15 p.m.

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.