Indians claim district championship with 64-56 win over Knoxville
One win away from state tournament
By Doug DeKock
The Oskaloosa boys’ basketball team showed the heart of a champion on Thursday night as they overcame a double digit deficit to defeat Knoxville 64-56. Things did not look good for the Indians in the early going, as jitters and a hot-shooting Knoxville team jumped to an early lead. Both teams shot air balls in front of the big, energized crowd from both schools. Knoxville was able to settle down first and led 13-8 after one quarter. The teams started playing better in the 2nd quarter with Knoxville getting a huge boost from the bench from senior Cade McNeill. McNeill checked into the game and promptly dropped 4-3 pointers to help the Panthers to a 12-point lead midway through the 2nd period. Knoxville was on the verge of a knockout punch, but the Indians replied with some big baskets of their own, to pull within 8 points at the half 34-26. The Panthers scored 21 points in the quarter and hit 7-3 pointers in the 1st half. The Indians felt both lucky and good to be going into the half only down by 8 points.
The 2nd half would be a completely different story as the Indian defense started to clamp down on the Panthers. Oskaloosa battled their way back to within striking distance before Spencer Tucker dropped a huge 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Oskaloosa their first lead of the game at 43-41 going into the 4th quarter. The Indians had the 1st possession of the quarter and scored immediately to push the lead to 4 points, a lead they would not give up the rest of the way. Oskaloosa’s offense began clicking on all cylinders as the Indians built a double digit lead of their own before Knoxville would make one last run. The Panthers were able to get the lead down to 4 points but clutch free throw shooting down the stretch would win it for Oskaloosa. Oskaloosa were led by senior Jack Moore who scored 14 points, with Jarad Kruse right behind him with 13 points. Tucker, who hit some big 3s in the game finished with 11 points. Tanner DeKock, whose defense was critical in the 2nd half, along with Tucker Nunnikhoven, had 9 points. Cole Henry scored his 8 points late and in clutch time while Rian Yates also scored a big 5 points for the Indians when points were needed the most. Nunnikhoven and Xavier Foster rounded off the scoring with 2 points each.
Oskaloosa are now one win away from their first state tournament berth in over 20 years. Only 4 Oskaloosa teams have made the tournament, one in the 1920s, one in the 79-80 season and 2 teams in the mid-90s. Oskaloosa is 15-8 on the season and one more win would equal the win total from the previous 4 years! The Indians have now won 7 of their last 8 games and are peaking at the right time. This team has been a blast to follow and watch grow. It is the true definition of a team because you never know from one game to the next who might step up and have a big game. It has been an incredible ride so far, let’s hope we stay on the roller coaster a little bit longer!