It was the kind of week that the Osceola Chieftain girls basketball team needed. They won a pair of games on the road, first against the Clayton Bears in a non-conference contest, and then against the Baldwin-Woodville Blackhawks in a Middle Border conference test. Prescott currently holds down the top spot in the MBC with a conference record of 10-2, one-half game ahead of New Richmond, who is 10-1.
The win for Osceola at Baldwin was particularly important as it was on the road and against a team above them in the standings. The win was no fluke. Osceola jumped to an 8-1 lead and went into halftime with a 13-10 advantage in a very low-scoring, defensive battle.
“Our defense was a major factor in this victory,” Osceola coach Mike Haase said. “We held BW to 19% shooting. We also showed great patience on offense, looking for a high percentage shot. It might not have been crowd-pleasing but it’s what we needed to do to win.”
Baldwin-Woodville led just once in the game, 14-13, early in the second half but the Chieftains quickly regained the lead at 15-14 on a Mallory Johnson hoop. The Blackhawks later tied the game at 30 points each setting up a thrilling finish.
Arial Branum put Osceola back on top with a deuce and Emily Fox added a pair of free throws to put the Chieftains up 34-30. With the score 34-32 Hattie Fox added two free throws to build a 36-32 lead and when Johnson went to the hoop for another bucket the Chieftains seemed in control at 38-32. B-W then scored four straight to cut the Osceola advantage to 38-36. Hattie Fox added a free throw with 16 ticks left on the clock and Emily Fox added another six seconds later to put the Chieftains up 40-36. The Blackhawks scored to cut the Chieftain lead to two but could not get the equalizer.
“Hattie Fox and Mallory Johnson were both 4-for-5 for two-point field goals,” Haase noted. “As the game progressed and we had a small lead, we relied on Kaili Bradway to handle their full court press, and she did an awesome job of taking care of the ball. She finished the night with five assists. Late in the game Arial Branum came up with two very timely baskets to help us maintain our lead.”
Hattie Fox led Osceola in scoring with 18 points while Johnson was the team leader in rebounds with eight.
“Our team has continued to battle and improve through our recent struggles,” Johnson said. “Against BW we were able to work well as a team offensively and defensively. We went into that game with spirit and drive and came out winners.”
Osceola got a nice non-conference win over the Clayton Bears by a 60-30 score. The Chieftains roared to a 34-15 halftime lead and out-scored Clayton in the second half 26-15.
“The girls came ready to play at Clayton starting with the first possession of the game,” Haase said. “Hattie Fox got things started with a 3-pointer, and then Mallory Johnson hit one on the next possession. Emily Fox then followed with a pair of 3s in the next few possessions. Emily had the best game of her career, scoring 24 points and doing it in a number of different ways. She had three 3-pointers, shot 5-of-6 from the free throw line, scored fast break layups, and hit mid-range jump shots.”
Hattie Fox also had a big offensive night netting 15 Chieftain points.
“Mallory Johnson did a nice job of attacking the rim and finished with 9 points,” Haase said. “She calmly made two free throws just before halftime with an empty lane to push our lead to 34-15. Those are nerve-racking shots and she handled them well. By the end of the night Olivia Wright connected on her first varsity basket. Our defense is slowly improving throughout the season, so it was good to hold them to a low score.”