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Blair Oaks blasts Osage

Blair Oaks’ Chandler Haxton outreaches everyone else in the paint while battling for the offensive rebound off a missed free throw Friday night in Wardsville.

Blair Oaks’ Chandler Haxton outreaches everyone else in the paint while battling for the offensive rebound off a missed free throw Friday night in Wardsville. Photo by Kris Wilson.

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — It was just what the doctor ordered.

Coming off a pair of tough losses, the Blair Oaks Falcons tuned up for next week’s district tournament by pummeling the School of the Osage Indians 76-53 on Friday night.

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“This was the kind of game we were looking for to hopefully set the tone for districts, mentally if nothing else,” Blair Oaks coach Ryan Fick said. “They were a little down after the last couple games, but we played two quality teams over the last week, and both on the road.”

Everybody had a hand in stopping the mini-skid, as the Falcons had eight different players score six or more points in the victory, with just two of them reaching double digits. Chandler Haxton led the way with 12, Kory Franks had 11, while Ryan Wilbers and Haydn Lock had eight each. Joey Bernskoetter and Seth Eskens both had seven, while Ross Burlbaw and Logan Gratz added six each.

“At halftime we had 18 baskets and 13 assists on those baskets,” Fick said. “They’re very unselfish, sometimes to a fault, where we try to make that extra pass and guys are already turning and boxing out to go rebound and not ready for the ball. But as a coach, those are things we can show them on film and get better at.”

The game was over early. After Osage took its only lead thanks to the opening basket, Blair Oaks responded with a 17-2 run to take control. The Falcons forced the Indians into eight first-quarter turnovers and led 22-5.

Blair Oaks led by 24 points on three different occasions in the second quarter before taking a 43-20 lead into halftime.

One of the most impressive things the Falcons did in the first half was play well while in foul trouble, as two different players avoided getting their third fouls after picking up two early ones.

Helping that cause was Burlbaw, who came off the bench to give the Falcons valuable minutes and canned all three of his shots in the half.

“Ross is a guy who’s done everything we’ve asked of him for four years, and it’s nice to see him come in in spots where he’s able to contribute,” Fick said. “He stepped up and scored six points and played his role. When guys are in foul trouble and we can look to him and he can be productive, that’s a good thing.”

The Falcons pushed the lead to 31 points — that coming on the final points of the quarter on three-point play by Owen Luebbering — making it 65-34 at the start of the fourth and starting the running clock.

The biggest lead of the night came at 68-34 when Franks drilled a 3-pointer, and the Indians’ starters made limited headway against the Falcons’ reserves down the stretch.

About the only downside for the Falcons was they hit just 10-of-23 free throws.

“Our last two games, our free-throw percentage reared its ugly head,” Fick said. “Last week at Versailles we lose by one in overtime and shoot just over 50 percent from the line … and it was kind of the same thing (in a loss) at California.

“A lot of it is mental. You try not to draw too much attention to it and hope they just step up there and knock shots down.”

Otherwise, it was a romp in the Falcons’ final regular-season game. Blair Oaks will host the district tournament next week, as the Falcons are the third seed and open against sixth-seeded Centralia at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

“We had a good atmosphere tonight, a good student section, and our kids thrived on it,” Fick said. “That’s the kind of atmosphere we can create for the district tournament, because that’s part of having the opportunity to host — to create that home-court advantage.

“It’s more than just playing on the court and shooting on the rims you practice on every day. It has to do with the student section and the atmosphere as well.”

In the JV game, Blair Oaks rolled to a 68-31 victory. Jordan Hair had 15 points for the Falcons, who end the season with a record of 14-5, while Cody Alexander and Luebbering added 12 apiece.

Blair Oaks took the freshman game by a 66-41 score. Ryan Paschal had 20 points for the Falcons (10-11) and Dylan Skinner added 11.

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