OSKALOOSA — It was about as thrilling as an opening night game could be. Two late clutch free throws from Oskaloosa would tie up the game only for a late jumper from Fairfield just before time expired would hand the game to the Trojans over the Indians, 65-63.
There was plenty of energy and emotion on the floor as the game got underway and started out with a blazing pace as both teams went up and down the floor.
Aidan Scholes would get Oskaloosa going as he made a pair of free throws before getting hot from three and nailing three triples to score 11 of Osky’s first 17 points to go up 17-9 early. A late three from Nathan Kelderman off the bench would cap a highly entertaining 22-16 first quarter in favor of the Indians.
After a slow start in the second, play picked up again with forward Gus Bunnell popping out to the top of the key and banging home a three to put the Indians in front 32-22 while Fairfield struggled to finish their looks inside.
After a Trojan timeout, the visitors finished the final 2:30 of the second quarter on an 11-2 run with JJ Lane capping off an impressive first half with two threes before getting fouled taking another three to score nine straight points for Fairfield, who pulled within one at 34-33 at the half.
The third quarter saw Scholes and Max Roach both knock down threes while Fairfield started to establish an inside game. The Trojans would briefly take a lead midway through the third with Max Weaton scoring his 1,000th career point while they did a nice job working it inside and out to go up four.
Oskaloosa answered with a 7-0 run to retake the lead before a late three by Lane tied things up again at 49-49 heading to the fourth.
The final quarter continued to provide great entertainment as Weaton kept doing work inside for Fairfield before Waylon Bolibaugh would jab-step and drain a tying three with two minutes to go.
It was still close late in the game with Osky trailing by two with under 30 seconds to go when Bunnell would miss a three from the top of the key. The Indians would foul and send the Trojans to the line for a one-and-one. They would miss the front end with Roach getting the ball and driving the other way before getting fouled at the rim, sending the freshman to the line for two pressure free throws with the game on the line. With ice in his veins, Roach calmly knocked down both as Fairfield would hold for the final shot.
Lane, who did most of his damage in the first half, drove left and pulled up from the free throw line as his jumper would fall with just under two seconds left as Oskaloosa could do nothing but heave the ball on the inbounds as it fell short with the Indians suffering a heartbreaker, 65-63.
Lane, who had just two baskets in the second half, finished with 25 points, four rebounds and six assists for Fairfield while Weaton added 23 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks.
Oskaloosa shot well offensively going 42.3% from the field, 11-of-25 (44%) from three and 8-of-10 from the line. The problem was the rebounding where they were dominated by the Trojans 39-25.
It was a balanced scoring attack for the Indians with all five starters scoring at least eight points led by Scholes’ 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and three blocks. Bolibaugh had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists while Roach added 11 points, five assists and three steals and Bunnell finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Oskaloosa (0-1) will look to bounce back on Friday at 7:45 p.m. when they travel to Pella Christian (0-1).