The bad news for the Osceola Chieftain boys’ basketball team is that they lost three straight games last week. It has been hard for Osceola to put up wins this season but the silver lining is they are playing better ball and they are getting close. The Chieftains opened their week with a non-conference loss at St. Croix Falls against a very tough Saint’s team. The next night they were edged out by the Ellsworth Panthers in a very close Middle Border conference contest. OHS ended their week at New Richmond and lost to a strong Tiger team.
Osceola fell behind St. Croix Falls 22-8 but hung in the game against the Saints and made thing very interesting. The Chieftains cut the deficit to 25-21 with 1:16 left before halftime but SCF scored five straight to end the half with a 30-21 advantage. OHS was down only five at 44-39 but the Saint’s Payton Christenson applied the dagger with back-to-back treys after a free throw by Dayo Oye to take a 51-39 lead.
“We dug ourselves a pretty big hole to start the game but did a nice job of clawing back into it to end the half,” Osceola Coach Tyler Olson said. “We found some good looks against their zone on offense, and started taking shots with more confidence in the second half. Defensively we did not get out to their shooters, and they made us pay.”
Garrett Slater led the Chieftain scoring with 11 followed by Jacob Hall with 10.
The game against St. Croix Falls was close but the next night against Ellsworth was even closer. The Panthers had a three point advantage by halftime but Osceola quickly tied the game on a shot from behind the arc by Hall to start the second half. For the rest of the game Ellsworth would pull away by a few points only to have the Chieftains fight back into the game. After trailing 41-35 Osceola tied things up with a pair of free throws by Hall, followed by a bucket by Cade Rysdam, and another pair of free throws by Hall. Ellsworth gained a 43-41 lead but the Chieftains tied things up again when Hall hit one of two charity tosses as did Tyler Ulrich. The Panthers grabbed a 45-43 but Ashton Measner cut the deficit to a single point with a free throw. Ellsworth then scored the last three points of the game on free throws.
“The environment in the gym was a little different in this one with more fans allowed to attend, and our guys fed off that,” Olson noted. “These are the games where you look at a few possessions here and there that really swing momentum and contribute to the outcome. I thought we did enough defensively to pull this one out, but we committed a couple untimely turnovers and did not convert a high enough percentage around the rim or at the line.”
Hall led the Chieftains with 14 points followed by Measner with 13.
Osceola finished their week at New Richmond against the MBC’s second place team, the Tigers. New Richmond pulled out to a 31-16 halftime lead before finishing off the Chieftains 68-39. Slater led the Osceola offense with 12 points. The Tigers talented junior CJ Campbell led all scorers with 24.
“We know what the scoreboard read after the game,” Olson said, “but I am proud of the way we competed. We came out with a good start but allowed their lead to grow to 15 going into half. We fought hard to attempt a push in the second half but the margin was just too large to make things really interesting. “