It is no secret that the Osceola Chieftain boys basketball team could use a few more wins. Last week Osceola came close in a pair of contests, first at Barron against the Bears and then at home against the St. Croix Central Panthers. The Chieftains had their chances in both games but could not get the key stop on defense when needed or could not convert in their offensive set with a chance to tie or take the lead.
New Richmond and Prescott currently share the top spot in the Middle Border conference race with 10-1 records. St. Croix Central and Somerset are tied for third place in the MBC with 7-4 marks.
The game in Barron was close throughout. The Bears held a slim two point advantage at intermission and added another two points to their victory margin after the break. The final score had the Bears on top 44-40.
“Last Monday night in Barron ended a pretty tough stretch for us and we played like it,” Osceola coach Jacob Meyer said. “We did some good things and made the game really competitive. However we gave up 21 points to Barron’s offensive rebounds and that was ultimately the difference in the game.”
Trey Jensen led Osceola with 15 points with Logan Maxon adding eight and Josh Schultz seven.
At first glance the score of the game against St. Croix Central implies that the contest wasn’t close. True, the final score had the Panthers on top 61-45 but the game was much closer than the score would indicate. After SCC had leads of 13-4, 16-6 and 20-10 the Chieftains fought back against a very good Panther team. Osceola went on a 10-2 scoring run on a pair of hoops by both Ashton Measner and Jacob Hall and a pair of charity tosses by Garrett Slater to cut the Central lead to 22-20. St. Croix Central closed out the first half by scoring five straight and took a 27-20 lead into the halftime locker room.
St. Croix Central led by five, 34-29, when Maxon launched a 3-point bomb to cut the Chieftain deficit to 34-32 with 9:57 to play. Osceola was down 38-36 after a Schultz free throw with 7:36 remaining but then SCC got hot from long range. The Panthers built a 45-36 lead before the Chieftains cut it to 45-40 with 4:45 left on the clock. Osceola then ran out of gas as SCC pulled away to win by 16.
“I really liked how our guys responded against St. Croix Central,” Meyer said. “St. Croix Central is a very physical team and our focus for the week was to match their physicality. I thought our boys did a very good job of that. We played very physical defense and had bodies flying after loose basketballs. I thought it was the best overall game we have played, against a top tier team in our league. We also had a few guys in foul trouble in the first half and I thought Jacob Hall and Garret Slater had some great minutes during that stretch. I am hoping that we keep playing physical like we did against St. Croix Central going into this week.”
Measner led the Osceola scoring with 13 points followed by Hall with 10. Slater added eight points to the Chieftain total. With the close loses behind then Osceola looks to learn from the games and move on.
“We are going to try and stay focused on what is in front of us, rather than what’s already happened,” Osceola senior Josh Mork said. “Our goal is to build some momentum going into playoffs and make a run from there.”