WARTBURG — As a foul and free throw discrepancy widened during Friday’s District 4-A showdown here, Wartburg was able to survive an upset bid by Oneida, escaping with a 61-57 win and its District 4-A lead intact.
The Bulldogs (16-3, 8-0) traded the lead several times with the Indians (12-8, 5-2) before ultimately prevailing.
The Indians led as late as the 5:21 mark of the fourth quarter, when Trevor Allen scored to give the Indians a 47-46 lead.
But Austin Langley hit a 3-point shot on the next trip down the floor, and Wartburg never trailed again.
The Bulldogs collected 17 offensive rebounds, many of which led to second-chance scoring opportunities, and turned the ball over only 10 times.
But the most glaring statistics were fouls and free throws. Oneida was whistled for 20 fouls to Wartburg’s nine, despite an aggressive, full-court defense applied by the Bulldogs for much of the game. Wartburg shot 27 free throws to just 7 for Oneida. Despite making only 48 percent, free throws proved to be the difference in the outcome for the Bulldogs.
After the game, an irate Rusty Yaden blasted the officiating in his postgame radio interview. The Oneida coach said that his team “played our guts out, and three guys in stripes dictated the outcome.”
“Some people will say, ‘You’re blaming the officials,’” Yaden added. “Well, I am blaming the officials. It was crazy.”
The seven free throws were the fewest Oneida had shot this season. The Indians average 16 trips to the free throw line each game. The 20 fouls Oneida was whistled for was a season high, and more than double its game average.
There was little time to reflect on the loss, however, as Oneida was scheduled to host a red-hot Sunbright team on Tuesday with its No. 2 district standing on the line.
SCORING: Oneida — C. West 24, C. Jeffers 14, M. Jeffers 8, Duncan 7, Allen 4. Wartburg — Fountain 22, Langley 14, Dyer 11, D. Justes 6, Moore 4, B. Justes 2, Hamby 2.
McCreary Central 65, Oneida 56: Playing short-handed made homestanding McCreary Central no less determined, as the Raiders used an eight-man roster to defeat Oneida, 65-56, in Stearns Saturday evening.
Josh Gregory went to the free throw line 22 times and scored 29 points as the Raiders twice battled back from sizeable deficits to take control in the waning minutes.
McCreary Central entered the game with just eight varsity players due to injuries and other mishaps. When Tyler Strunk went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter, the Raiders’ bench was shortened to just seven players.
Oneida, meanwhile, raced to an 11-point lead in the first half, only to see the Raiders chip away at the deficit and eventually take the lead.
The Indians similarly built an eight-point lead in the third quarter, only to see McCreary County again come from behind.
The free throw line was a crucial bonus for the Raiders, who connected on 20 of 27 opportunities (74 percent). Oneida was 12 of 19 (63 percent).
SCORING: Oneida — C. West 22, Duncan 10, M. Jeffers 8, Yaden 5, C. Jeffers 4, Sharp 3, Boshears 2, Allen 2. McCreary Central — Gregory 29, Longmire 10, Duncan 10, Tucker 7, Ross 5, Strunk 2, Trammell 2.