It’s too bad that the season came to an end when it did for the Osceola Chieftain girls’ basketball team. After a slow start it seemed like Osceola was better each time out in recent weeks. The Chieftains started the season with three straight losses, went 3-3 in their next six games, and finished winning four of their last six. Osceola lost their first five MBC contests but won five of their final nine.
Last week Osceola competed in the WIAA Regional and continued their impressive play with a 10 point win, on the road, in Hayward. The Chieftain defense took charge in this one allowing only 11 points by the home town Hurricanes in the first half. Osceola’s offense wasn’t hitting on all cylinders either as the Chieftains were able to manage just 16 points before the break. OHS outscored Hayward 24-19 in the second half to come home with a 40-30 win.
“The major storyline from our win over Hayward was our team defense,” Osceola Coach Mike Haase said. “We were able to really limit the number of quality shots Hayward took. Hayward had a few big players in the post. Arial Branum, Jordyn Wright, Lauren Kremer and Olivia Wright worked their tails off defending those kids, especially Branum. On the perimeter we limited the Hayward shooters to only a single three pointer. Holding them to 30 points cleared the way for us to be in control for most of the night.”
Hattie Fox led the Chieftains in scoring with a game high 19 points. Kaili Bradway added eight points to the Chieftain collection and Mallory Johnson chipped in with seven. Fox led the team in rebounds with nine followed by Johnson with seven.
Osceola’s season came to an end the next night with a 10 point loss to top-seeded Rice Lake. With the win the Warriors upped their record to 15-7 and have now won seven in a row. Johnson led the Chieftains in scoring with 19 points followed by Fox with 11. Rice Lake’s Brynn Olson led all scorers with 25.
“Rice Lake had overall team size that we hadn’t played against all year, and in the end proved to be the difference in the game,” Haase said. “We were right there the entire night. We were within one point at one moment in the second half, and forced some turnovers that could have put us over the top, but Rice Lake seemed to always have an answer.”
The Regional final game at Rice Lake was also the final game for three Chieftain seniors who were big parts of the Osceola turnaround and will be missed next season.
“Our seniors Kaili Bradway, Arial Branum and Jordyn Wright have been a huge part of our success this season,” Haase summarized. “We made it a goal of ours to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season, and their hard work definitely put us in a position to do that. Kaili has been so valuable as a point guard and defender. Arial has really been an awesome defender against mostly taller post players, and Jordyn has been one of our leading rebounders this season.”
Bradway explained what basketball at OHS has meant to her. “Basketball has played at major role in shaping who I am today,” she said. “You spend countless hours working hard to achieve this big goal. I didn’t know what to expect coming into my senior year, if I would even get the chance to play one game. I’ve gotten the opportunity to play with such amazing girls every year and it’s hard to think that was my last time dribbling the ball down the court. It’s difficult saying goodbye to the sport I love so much.”