Chaos. Mayhem. Utter devastation.
And absolute joy.
Those in the stands on Tuesday night at Clear Lake High School will remember the game between Osage and Forest City for a long time. In a stunning upset overtime-victory, the Indians pulled off a 51-50 win over the Green Devils to advance to the Class 2A, Substate 3 finals.
It was an ending that left Forest City sophomore Carter Bruckhoff "speechless."
The game was as tight as could be almost all the way through. At halftime, Forest City held a 23-17 lead, only to watch that lead slip away early in the fourth quarter. Going into the final frame, Forest City's advantage had narrowed to one point, 30-29.
With seven minutes left in the fourth, Osage sophomore Nathan Havel scored a basket to give the Green Devils their first lead since the first quarter. Soon after, senior Jonah Bluhm nailed a 3-pointer that put Osage up by four points. The teams traded leads throughout the fourth and went into overtime deadlocked at 45.
In overtime, the Green Devils took a 50-48 lead, only to see Bruckhoff get the pass in the corner from junior Noah Miller, and nail a 3-pointer with seven seconds left that sent the Forest City crowd into hysterics. After a desperation shot by Osage failed to go in, the Forest City players swarmed and celebrated on the court.
"Our guys have won 10 of their past 11," Forest City head coach Dan Rosacker said. "We're a pretty good team. We had a pretty hard time early in the season finding ourselves, but once we did, they bought in. We're really a tough out for anybody."
Junior Noah Miller led the Indians with 20 points on the night. Bruckhoff contributed 16 points, including his game-clinching 3-pointer.
After the game, both Miller and Bruckhoff credited the other for the winning shot. Miller had been making big baskets all game, including four 3-pointers. Bruckhoff had struggled shooting 3's as of late, combining over his past three games to go 0-for-8 from beyond the arc.
When it mattered most though, Bruckoff came up big.
"I'm just glad I took (the shot)," Bruckhoff said. "I'm glad coach and my teammates trusted me. Noah Miller saw me in the corner, and I had to just let it rip."
For Rosacker, the play was emblematic of Miller's maturity on the court. When the Osage defense focused in on Miller, that left Bruckhoff wide open.
"Noah realized that he was getting a lot of attention," Rosacker said. "A lot of kids would’ve forced that shot, but he found Carter and trusted him, and Carter knocked it down."
On defense, much of Forest City's plan revolved around stopping Osage senior Jonah Bluhm. Bluhm came into the game averaging 20.3 points per game and was shooting over 50 percent from the field. On Tuesday night, Bluhm scored just 13 points.
"He's such a good scorer and we had to take some things away from him," Rosacker said. "It left some things open inside and I thought our guys did an OK job inside, and did a really nice job on him outside. I don't know how many threes they got, but fewer than they normally get. That was a big part of it, I thought."
For both both teams, Tuesday was a night that was circled on the calendar. It lived up to the hype.
With school finals happening on Wednesday and Thursday, the players have a lot on their minds.
But for one night, it was all about basketball.
"All school day, we were all hyped up, and ready to come over here and play," Bruckoff said. "It’s just another game on our schedule. They’re a solid team, but our confidence and team chemistry is great. It was an awesome win."
"I’m speechless right now."
With the victory, Forest City advances to the Class 2A, Substate 3 final. The Indians will play North Linn on Saturday night for a spot in the state tournament.
Osage ends its season with 20-3 record.
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