The spectators at Arnold Arena understood that they had seen something special and showed it by showering Fort Scott Community College's players with applause after the final buzzer sounded Saturday afternoon.
Due to injuries, academic issues and off-the-court indiscretions, Greyhound men were able to dress just five men against Independence for a Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division game. But the 'Hounds outscored the visitors 21-4 in the final six minutes of play.
Although they did not come back and pull off the miracle victory -- perhaps that would have been a little too Hollywood -- they made the final score respectable, 77-62.
"We were still pushing the ball," Fort Scott head coach Michael Cook said. "We cut the lead to 15 and we were playing within the game."
Maurice (Mo) Fields has a broken bone in his wrist. Cook is hopeful he can come back at some point, which would gave the 'Hounds (1-7 East, 2-18 overall) six players. Sophomores Julian Mills, Teance Walton and Derrick Thomas, and freshmen Derrick Green and Austin Danner will have to forge ahead on their own for the time being. Desean Miles, Tony McGilveary and Torrell Nickerson are no longer on the team.
"The mindset for all of us is 'Six strong,'" Mills said. "Everyone who's not here, it doesn't matter anymore. What matters is the five guys here right now -- once Mo gets back, it'll be six guys. We're not worrying about anything off the court. It's just what we can present on the court."
The Pirates (4-4, 9-11) jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the first five minutes. The 'Hounds didn't score on consecutive occasions until around the three-minute mark of the first half. Indy lead at halftime, 44-23.
The Pirates extended that lead by scoring the first 7 points of the second half. But Danner kicked things up a notch, scoring 14 points during an 18-6 run that brought Fort Scott within 16 points, 57-41, with 11:31 remaining.
Indy then went on a 16-0 run and boosted the lead to 32 points with 6:55 left. And probably not many people would have blamed the 'Hounds if they had surrendered at that point.
But they didn't. Independence began to foul a lot and the 'Hounds hit their free throws -- 12 of their last 13, in fact -- and Fort Scott's defense stayed active, holding the Pirates to two field goals in the final 5:20.
"Even though a lot of people looked down on us, having five guys, we believed we could do something," Mills said.
Danner finished with a personal-best 31 points becoming the first 'Hound to score 30 or more since Gary Floyd had 30 against Redlands in the opening game of the 2010-11 season. He made 9 of 16 shots from the field, including five 3-pointers, and all 8 of his free throws.
Thomas added 15 points and also had 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Fort Scott shot 34 percent from the field, making 18 of 53 field-goal attempts. They went 7 for 21 behind the 3-point arc and 19 of 22 at the charity stripe.
Independence was led by Jamil Goodwin's 16 points and 14 rebounds. Rodney Givens added 14 points and Bruce Adams contributed 13. Those three combined made 19 of 29 field-goal tries.
The Pirates shot 51 percent as a team on 35 of 68. They made only 4 of 14 3-point shots and 3 of 9 free throws. They outrebounded Fort Scott 50-24.
The 'Hounds committed just 15 turnovers while the Pirates coughed the ball up 20 times.
The first time through the conference schedule concludes Wednesday night when Labette comes to Arnold Arena. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
"Who knows what the future holds but I know one thing: we're going to keep fighting, we're going to keep playing," Cook said. "These guys believe in each other."
INDEPENDENCE: Goodwin 8-14 0-1 16, Givens 6-9 0-0 14, Adams 5-6 3-6 13, Botts 3-6 0-0 7, Criswell 3-7 0-0 6, Rule 3-6 0-0 6, Brown 2-4 0-0 5, Downing 2-4 0-0 4, Huffman 2-7 0-0 4, White 1-3 0-0 2, Garrison 0-0 0-2 0, Hooks 0-2 0-0 0. TOTALS: 35-68 3-9 77.
FORT SCOTT: Danner 9-16 8-8 31, Thomas 4-13 6-6 15, Walton 2-7 4-4 8, Green 2-9 0-2 5, Mills 1-8 1-2 3. TOTALS: 18-53 19-22 62.
Halftime: Independence 44-23.
Three-point field goals: Independence 4-14 (Givens 2-4, Botts 1-3, Brown 1-3, Downing 0-1, Goodwin 0-1, Hooks 0-2). Fort Scott 7-21 (Danner 5-9, Thomas 1-3, Green 1-5, Walton 0-1, Mills 0-3).
Total fouls: Independence 18, Fort Scott 9. Fouled out: Downing. Technical fouls: none.
Rebounds: Independence 50 (Goodwin 14), Fort Scott 24 (Thomas 7). Assists: Independence 16 (Goodwin 5), Fort Scott 6 (Thomas 3). Turnovers: Independence 20, Fort Scott 15. Steals: Independence 6 (Givens 2), Fort Scott 8 (Mills 4). Blocked shots: none.