OSAGE | With less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation and a tied score, the Newman Catholic boys basketball team looked to take the last shot in its crucial matchup against Osage on Tuesday.
The Green Devils responded with a solid defensive stand, so the Knights had to make something up.
Enter Josh Fitzgerald.
The Knights spread the floor and Fitzgerald drove to his left and pulled up for a short jumper with four seconds remaining that boosted Newman to a 67-65 win for its ninth consecutive win.
“We kind of had to improvise,” Fitzgerald said. “I was feeling good.”
The game was as close as the final score as the teams traded the lead 16 times, and neither team ever led by more than six.
Osage, which did a lot of its scoring from long-range with 10 three-pointers, looked to be edging out in the fourth quarter when a Jonah Bluhm basket put the Green Devils up six early in the final stanza.
The Knights still trailed by three when Fitzgerald picked up his fourth foul at the 4:26 mark.
Newman responded with a six-point run to take a three-point advantage with 2:12 remaining.
“We played with some poise,” Newman coach Jerry Gatton said. “We are so deep, we don’t drop off much.”
Drew Olson, who reached the 1,000-point career scoring mark in his last outing, nailed a three-pointer to tie the score.
The two teams traded baskets before the Fitzgerald and the Knights took care of business on the final possession.
Fitzgerald finished with a game-high 22 for Newman.
Justin Fausnaugh added 18 while Ina Holmgaard and Joe Scholl had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Olson finished with 20 to lead four Green Devils in double figures.
Colin Klapperich had 16 points, Bluhm 13 and Lucas Schwamman 10 for Osage.
After an 0-3 start to the season including two conference losses, the Knights’ ninth straight win puts them right into the thick of the conference race along with Osage and Rockford, among others.
“Coach told us to forget the first three games,” Fitzgerald said. “He said we are 0-0.”
Newman returns to action on Friday when it plays host to North Butler.
The Bearcats handed the Knights one of the three early-season losses.
Osage (8-3) travels to Central Springs on Friday.