COLUMBIA – Daviante Ostrander wrapped up an opposing player with 32 seconds left in the game. The freshman put his jersey in his mouth, bowed his head and waited for the free throws. He scored another basket following the free throws, but it was too late.
The Battle High School boys basketball leading scorer walked over to his team to shake hands with the Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic team (14-4).
His eyes were glassy. It was more than just another loss for Battle (4-16), which fell 72-67.
This was the first installment of a rivalry.
Based on attendance compared to previous games, this matchup has some legs. Battle's stands have been barren for boys basketball games this season.
But against Tolton, this was the loudest this gym has been, Battle coach John Burns said.
Battle was nearly out of the game in the first quarter when it went scoreless for more than four minutes. The Spartans were up 8-7 when the Trailblazers scored the next 17 points, capped off by freshman Michael Porter Jr.’s 3-pointer.
The fans sat down for a stretch, and the Battle boys weren’t focused, Burns said .
Battle came out in the second half on fire.
“We were down by 19, but I told them we could win,” Burns said. “And they bought in. It was impressive.”
Ostrander, who stands at 5-foot-9, finished with 31 points. He out-dueled 6-foot-6 Porter, who finished with 26 points.
Porter, however, constantly had a player guarding him.
“They were face guarding me,” Porter said. “So I tried to pass more often.”
The Battle fans thought the referees gave the Tolton star some leeway.
“That’s a foul,” one fan said.
“He’s been walking all night,” another said, claiming Porter traveled.
But in the end, Porter hit a tough layup while getting fouled and put the game out of reach.
Porter and Ostrander slapped hands after the game. When Ostrander exited the locker room, he didn’t say more than seven words.
His lips barely moved. His braces were hardly visible.
Ostrander acknowledged this is a rivalry, with a glimmer of a smirk.
His coach agreed.
“If it wasn’t before, it is now,” Burns said. “Let the rivalry begin.”
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.