The Osceola Chieftain girls basketball team is not deep in experience with just four letter winners returning from last season’s team. Osceola also has a new coaching staff with Mike Haase now the head coach and Brock Luehman and Amy Fossum are assistants although Haase was on board last season as an assistant. It may take a while for roles to be determined and how each player is able to mesh with their teammates.
Osceola understandably got off to a slow start in their season opening non-conference game against the Cameron Comets. The Chieftains fell behind in the first half of play by as many as seven points at 12-5 but then smoothed out the rough edges. Osceola knotted the score at 16 before taking their first lead since early in the game when a Mallory Johnson field goal put the Chiefs on top 18-16. The Chieftains went into intermission nursing a 21-20 advantage.
Osceola really got things rolling in the second half and outscored the Comets 33-25 after the break to come away with a 54-45 decision. Cameron opened the second half by scoring six of the game’s nine points to retake the lead at 26-24. Then the Chieftains went on an 18 point run to take their largest lead of the game at 42-26. The most encouraging part of the 18 straight points scored by Osceola was that five different players contributed to the scoring barrage. Johnson hit seven points during the surge with Ellie Gillespie and Emily Fox each adding four. Arial Branum added a bucket and Hattie Fox a free throw to the run that gave the Chieftains some breathing room.
Cameron fought back behind effective 3-point shooting to cut the Osceola lead to 48-40. Osceola then put the game away with a pair of free throws by Kaili Bradway with 3:48 to play followed by a Hattie Fox deuce with 2:57 left on the clock.
Osceola had great balance in their scoring with Johnson dropping in 13 points to lead the Chieftains. Emily Fox was also in double figures with 10 followed by Branum and Hattie Fox with nine points each. Gillespie chipped in with eight points. Both teams struggled from the free throw line with Osceola converting 10 of 25 attempts (40%) and Cameron making five of 11 (45%).
“It was great to start the season off with a win as a team,” Johnson said. “We are focused on playing as a team to be successful this year and we executed that against Cameron. My first varsity start was a great experience and I cannot wait to continue learning and growing with this team.”