The Osceola Chieftain girls’ basketball team is warming up. They aren’t red hot, at least not yet, but they appear to be heading in that direction. Last week Osceola had a busy schedule and was able to win two of three games. Even in the loss they had some very good moments against the top team in the Middle Border conference.
Osceola’s first home game of the week was against an MBC rival, the Ellsworth Panthers. The Chieftains took an early lead in the contest but Ellsworth fought back and seemingly took control when they opened up a 32-25 halftime lead. Osceola came out in the second half and roared to an impressive 13 point win outscoring the Panthers 40-20 after the break.
After Osceola gained an 11-2 advantage Ellsworth ran off 17 straight points and 22 of the next 23 to take a 24-12 lead. The Chieftains got key 3-pointers, one by Ava Ulrich and one by Emily DeMoe to keep things within reach. The second half was all Osceola.
“Mallory (Johnson) got us off on the right foot with a 3-pointer to start the half,” Osceola Coach Mike Haase said. “We got some great play from Lauren Kremer who got some offensive rebounds that she was able to convert to points. Olivia Wright had a great second half, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds. We weren’t done there. Kaili Bradway then turned up the tempo and was able to get past her defender and finish her shots. What was so awesome about this half was that as soon as one player would step up and make a couple of plays in a row, a teammate would follow it up with a few plays of their own. Everyone took turn at winning the moment.
“It was a fun and exciting game,” Wright said. “Things went well because we played together as one team. We knew that this game was going to be challenging for all of us and that we had to play the best we could. Winning this game felt amazing for me and everyone else on this team.”
Hattie Fox led the team in scoring with 16 despite Ellsworth playing a ‘Box-and-1’ defense against her. Johnson ended the game with 11 points and 18 rebounds, with Bradway adding 10 points and Kremer and Wright eight each. Johnson now has 165 rebounds for the season in 16 games.
The next night Osceola made it two wins in a row with a ‘grinder’ over Turtle Lake. Osceola nudged out to a three point lead by halftime and added four more points to their victory margin after the break to win 52-45.
“Playing back-to-back following the Ellsworth game was a bit taxing,” Haase remarked. “Turtle Lake gave us a great game. The tale of the tape came from deep with Emily DeMoe, Ava Ulrich, and Hattie Fox each making a 3-pointer to help us edge out TL. This was the second night in a row where we had really balanced scoring and got lots of contributions from everyone. Alexis See showed how crafty she can be, twice finding a way to shake a defender and be open under the basket for easy shots. If we weren’t stellar in this game we were at least consistent, scoring 26 points in each half.”
Johnson topped the Osceola scorers with a dozen points followed by Fox with 11. A total of eight Chieftains entered the scoring column.
Osceola started their week with a very tough assignment when they traveled to Prescott to take on the conference leading Cardinals. The Chieftains stayed close in the early stages of the game before Prescott gained traction and pulled away for the win.
“We made a nice run at Prescott in the first half to pull within five at 20-25,” Haase noted. “Prescott still remains a great team, and that showed during the rest of the game.”
The seedings for the upcoming Regional tournament are out. Osceola earned the 3-seed among the five team field and will travel to Hayward, the 2-seed, to challenge the Hurricanes on Feb. 5.