By JIM GRIES
Herald sports editor
The Oskaloosa boys basketball team suffered through a lot of losses during the 2012-13 season.
But none was more excruciating than Monday night’s Class 3A district semifinal against Chariton.
The Indians led for 31 minutes and 10 seconds against the Chargers, but a 3-pointer from Daric Laing with 2.3 seconds left gave Chariton the wild 47-46 victory and a date with South Central Conference rival Centerville Thursday night in Knoxville in the district final.
Oskaloosa took a 46-44 lead with 9 seconds left in regulation on a Clay Tucker free throw. Chariton called a timeout with 4.8 seconds remaining to set up the game-winning play.
After seeing what formation the Chargers would use, the Indians called their final timeout. Bryce Cunningham inbound the ball to Laing, who dribbled the ball to the top of the key and hit his only 3-pointer of the contest, but it was probably the biggest one the freshman has made during his brief career at Chariton.
“We fought hard. I thought the seniors (Drew Richmond, Clay Tucker, Tyce Sarver and Austin Redlich) played a strong game,” Oskaloosa coach Zach Tremmel said. “That was a big-time shot by a freshman. Tip your hat to him, he knocked it down.”
Oskaloosa, which closes the year at 3-19, was in control of the game from the outset and looked like it would snap a 7-game losing skid.
It got a pair of 3s from Ryan Reiter and one from Tyce Sarver to take an 11-5 lead with 3:15 to go in the first quarter.
The Chargers would pull even with a 6-0 spurt to close out the first quarter as T.J. Hockenson getting those six points on two field goals and a pair of free throws.
The Indians regained control of the game by making their first five shots of the period for a 22-18 edge with 3:06 to go in the first half.
Oskaloosa took a 27-22 lead to the locker room, thanks to an 11-for-18 shooting performance from the floor.
However, the second half was a much different story as the Indians picked up just five baskets the rest of the way, including one in the fourth quarter.
Their seniors led the way in the first part of the third quarter as the Indians pulled out to a 37-27 lead. Redlich started the 10-2 run with a basket then Tucker and Sarver nailed 3-pointers and Richmond tallied a bucket for the 10-point cushion with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter.
Chariton mounted a rally to end the third as two free throws from Willie Felderman and Hockenson got Chariton to within 6 at 37-31. Laing had a driving layup when Hockenson, who led all scorers with 21 points, had a basket to make it a 37-35 game at the 2-minute mark.
Sarver had four of his team-high 19 points to give Oskaloosa a 41-35 lead. But Hockenson’s bucket with 33 seconds left sent the game to the fourth with Oskaloosa holding a 41-37 lead.
Sarver hit a 3-pointer with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter for what proved to be the Indians’ final bucket of the game. That put them on top 44-38 before two baskets by Hockenson and a pair of free throws from Cunningham tied the game at 44 with 5:45 remaining.
Neither team was able to score over the next 4 1/2 minutes until Reiter made a free throw with 1:11 to go for the 45-44 lead.
That set up the final frantic moments which had the Chariton fans storming the court after Laing’s heroics.
“We really struggled in the second half,” Tremmel said. “Both teams were turning the ball over left and right. We missed some free throws down the stretch.
“On the positive side, the seniors didn’t give up. A lot of 3-18 teams would fold and say to hell with it. These guys came out and played hard all the way to the end. It’s a tough way to go out for the seniors. I told the sophomores and juniors they have to remember what this feels like because they don’t want to be part of it again, especially to end the season.”
Chariton 47, Oskaloosa 46
O 11 16 14 5 — 46
C 11 11 15 10 — 47
OSKALOOSA (46) — Drew Richmond 1-2 0-0 2, Clay Tucker 3-5 1-2 8, Tyce Sarver 7-13 2-3 19, Austin Redlich 4-6 0-0 10, Ryan Reiter 2-4 1-2 7, Spencer Medlin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-31 4-7 46.
3-point goals — 8-15 (Sarver 3-5, Redlich 2-4, Reiter 2-4, Tucker 1-2). Rebounds — 22 (Reiter 7, Tucker 6, Richmond 5, Sarver 2, Redlich 1, Medlin 1). Steals — 8 (Sarver 4, Redlich 2, Richmond 1, Reiter 1). Assists —— 8 (Tucker 4, Sarver 2, Redlich 2). Blocks — 2 (Tucker, Redlich). Total fouls — 13. Turnovers — 16.
CHARITON (47) — Alex Wright 1-7 0-0 3, Daric Laing 4-15 1-2 10, Willie Felderman 0-3 5-6 5, Bryce Cunningham 2-4 2-2 8, T.J. Hockenson 5-14 5-6 21, Carl Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Christian Bengston 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-43 13-16 47.
3-point goals — 4-12 (Cunningham 2-3, Wright 1-3, Laing 1-6). Rebounds — 27 (Felderman 10, Hockenson 8, Cunningham 3, Wright 3, Bengston 2, Laing 1). Steals — 6 (Hockenson 3, Wright 1, Felderman 1, Cunningham 1). Assists — 8 (Laing 5, Felderman 1, Bengston 1, Cunningham 1). Block — 1 (Laing). Total fouls — 12. Turnovers — 11.