COSBY, Tenn. — Moments after Saturday's 56-51 win here, Oneida coach Rusty Yaden stood at the scorers' table and breathed a sigh of relief.
"We always manage to find ways to make it interesting," he said.
For Yaden, Saturday's edition of a marathon road tour was about another preparatory test for the quickly approaching post-season: finding a way to win on the road.
One night after gutting out a district win at Oakdale, the Indians needed to overcome a torrid pace early by Cosby, then withstood a strong surge by the Eagles late in the fourth quarter.
Cole West scored 28 points — leaving him just 10 short of 2,000 for his career — and completed a double-double with 13 rebounds, while Josh Sharp and Michael Jeffers each finished with 10 points to pace the Indians.
Oneida saw Cosby surge to an 18-11 lead in the first quarter, led by Jordan Self and Kyle Cleavenger, who finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
But Yaden and assistant coach Zach Smith made the decision to switch to a 2-2-1 zone defense, which clearly frustrated Cosby.
The Eagles scored just five points in the second quarter, as Oneida rallied for a 30-23 halftime lead, capped by a nothing-but-net buzzer-beater from mid-court by sophomore Cage West.
Oneida led by as much as nine points in the third quarter and eventually led by 10, 42-32, early in the fourth.
But Cosby would rally. A 3-point shot by Self with 3:26 remaining cut the lead to 49-45, with an apparently tired Oneida team turning the ball over on consecutive possessions.
With Yaden imploring his team to dig deep and find a way to hold on, the Indians did just that, turning in consecutive defensive stands that held Cosby without points.
The Eagles were able to cut the game to one possession, 49-46, on a free throw by Cleavenger with 1:25 to play, but Oneida's best free throw shooters went to the line with ice water in their veins in the final 42 seconds.
Bryant Harper made four straight free throws, while Jeffers added two more, as Oneida went up 55-48 with 10 seconds remaining. Cosby added a late three by Cody Valentine, the Eagles' seventh of the evening from long-range, but it was not enough.
ONEIDA (56): Cole West 28, Josh Sharp 10, Michael Jeffers 10, Bryant Harper 5, Cage West 3.
COSBY (51): Jordan Self 15, Kyle Cleavenger 13, Bryson Valentine 8, Keenan Phillips 7, Derrick Norris 5, Cody Valentine 3.