High school basketball in Wisconsin usually isn’t played on Saturdays, at least until tournament time. The 2020-2021 season is one that is not usual. Teams are struggling to try to get their games played and they really don’t seem to mind what day of the week might work, they just want to play. Last Saturday the Osceola Chieftain girls’ basketball team went to Ellsworth to challenge the Panthers in Middle Border conference play. Osceola got down early, played well after the break, but couldn’t come back from the 12 point halftime deficit and lost 54-41.
Prescott holds the top spot in the MBC with a 5-0 record (8-2 overall). New Richmond currently resides in second place at 4-1 with Baldwin-Woodville a half game further back at 3-1.
The game in Ellsworth was tightly officiated with 47 total fouls called during the contest. Both teams went to the charity stripe early and often with the Panthers holding an edge from the line. Ellsworth converted 22-of-34 free throws (65%) while the Chieftains hit on 17-of 31 (55%). Osceola’s Kaili Bradway and Mallory Johnson both fouled out of the game as did Panther Lily Puhrmann. Johnson went to the line 16 times for the Chieftains and converted 11 (69%).
“The referees were calling a lot of fouls, so I knew that if I continued to drive to the hoop I could score or draw a foul,” Johnson explained. “It is important that you read the defense and take the opportunities presented to you.”
Johnson ended the game with a very solid double-double leading the Chieftains in scoring with 15 and in rebounding with 18. Hattie Fox also hit for double figures for Osceola connecting on five deuces and a free throw for 11 points. Molly Janke led all scorers as she netted 22 points for the Panthers with six deuces and hit 10-of-13 free throws. Ellsworth’s Autumn Earney added 15 points to the Panther collection.
Ellsworth moved to a 29-17 halftime advantage behind a dozen points from Janke, eight by Earney and seven by Ava Brookshaw. The second half was almost even as the Panthers outscored Osceola just 25-24 after the break, increasing their final victory margin to 13 points at 54-41.
“We got off to a slow start and didn’t shoot particularly well, going 0-for-27 from the three point line, only to find out half way through the second half that Ellsworth had us playing with a men’s basketball until one of our players noticed during a free throw that it wasn’t right,” Osceola Coach Mike Haase said. “Our girls tried to mount a comeback, closing to eight after being down as many as 18. I never felt like we were out of the game and our kids played hard enough to close the gap, but we just couldn’t hit a game changing shot.”
Osceola has a pair of Middle Border conference games this week. After hosting St. Croix Central on Jan. 12th the Chieftains travel to New Richmond to challenge the Tigers on Jan. 15.