The Osceola Chieftain boys’ basketball season came to an end last week in the Regional semi-final game on top-seeded Rice Lake’s home court. Osceola opened Regional play with a 54-45 win over the Hayward Hurricanes on the Chieftain’s home court. The win over Hayward was the team’s third win in a row and whets the team’s fan base for what may be coming next season.
The win over Hayward was the second time the two teams met during the season. Osceola traveled to Hayward last Dec. 22nd and came home with a 41-22 decision. The game in Osceola was a close contest with the result in doubt until the end. The Chieftains opened up a 26-20 halftime advantage and added three more points to the victory margin in the second half.
“Our first round matchup with Hayward was quite a battle,” Osceola first year coach Tyler Olson said. “We were able to take advantage of our size on the offensive end, but their quickness and shooting caused some challenges for us defensively. Ultimately, we were able to make a few key plays and make our free throws to pull out the victory. It was definitely rewarding to earn a playoff win.”
Osceola had two players lead the way offensively with Ashton Measner and Brayden Bradway each scoring 13.
The season for Osceola came to an end at Rice Lake against the Warriors. Rice Lake had earned the top seed in the Regional and was prepared for the Chieftains. OHS played a very solid first half and stayed within 13 points of the home standers trailing 39-26. The Warriors caught fire after the break and outscored the Chieftains 37-16. Rice Lake had a big night from beyond the arc as they netted 14 treys to account for 42 of their team points.
“We gave Rice Lake everything we had in the first half,” Olson noted. “We found ourselves only down five with a couple minutes to go, but entered half down 13. Rice Lake has the firepower to make leads swell in a hurry, and that’s exactly what they did in the second half.”
Osceola was playing their best basketball at the end of the season after overcoming some injury issues and Covid concerns. The Chieftains were also adjusting to Olson’s new offensive and defensive concepts.
“Like every other team this year, our season was filled with many challenges and a lot of adversity to overcome,” Olson said. “I am extremely proud of the way our team continued to show up each day with positive attitudes and a strong work ethic during some tough stretches we had. You always want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year and we felt we did that. Ending the season with two conference wins, to go with a playoff victory, was a great way to finish the season and is a testament to the determination of our players.”
Osceola hopes to build off of their late season successes. The Chieftains will return eight players with at least some varsity experience and will be counting on several athletes that had good junior varsity seasons.
“The way we ended the season gives us some positive momentum heading into next year,” Olson summarized. “We had a really successful season at the JV level this year with a group that plays well together. We are excited for a productive off-season to build some chemistry with those younger players in the fold.”
The game at Rice Lake was the final game for a solid group of Osceola seniors who will no doubt be missed.
“Our seniors this year left such a positive impact on our program,” Olson said. “These six individuals laid the foundation for a culture that will be sustainable for years to come. Any success our program has in the future will be traced back to what was built by them during this season. We want to thank Jacob Hall, Austin Almlie, Ashton Measner, Isaiah Guilfoile, Ben Neumann, and Cody Schwartz for their many contributions to our team and program. These are quality young men with bright futures who will always be Chieftains for life.”