GIrls' basketball: Osakis falls to state-ranked New London-Spicer
The Osakis girls' basketball team had gotten pretty good at playing the underdog role throughout their run in the Section 6AA playoffs.
The Silverstreaks upended two higher seeds to reach the section championship game last Friday night. While there, they almost claimed a third victim.
Osakis gave a 28-1 New London-Spicer team all it could handle in the finals but could not quite hold off the top-seeded Wildcats in a 34-29 loss.
The Silverstreaks proved early that they were not going to back down from a New London-Spicer program that had 13 state tournament appearances coming into the game. Osakis jumped out to an 8-0 lead and extended that to 18-12.
"I felt that was very important," head coach Pat Kalpin said. "Playing in a big game like this one, it's important to get off to a good start. New London-Spicer is a very disciplined basketball team. They do all the little things so well. As the game went on, they adjusted very well and took away the things that were working for us early in the game."
The Wildcats ended the first half on an 8-2 run to tie things up going into the half. The Silverstreaks shot 50 percent from the field in the opening 18 minutes but were held to 20 percent shooting in the second.
Karli Wendlandt opened the second half with a basket to give New London-Spicer its first lead of the game. Kelsie Larson, who finished with a game-high 15 points and 12 rebounds, tied it at 26 apiece with just more than 10 minutes remaining. The Wildcats Brianna Jacobson then scored with 8:25 left to put her team back up. That was a lead they did not relinquish as they held off the Silverstreaks to reach their first state tournament since 2004.
"We had many scoring opportunities," Kalpin said. "It was just unfortunate that we couldn't get a few more shots to fall for us in the second half."
The Silverstreaks' defense was still able to keep them within striking distance throughout the game. Taylor Thompsen led the Wildcats with just nine points. Brianna Jacobs followed with eight, and Cassie Ziemer finished with six points. New London-Spicer's defense was equally as impressive, though. Kelsey Proell finished with six points for Osakis to go along with Larson's 15. But no other player finished with more than three.
"Defensively, our girls played probably the best they've played all year," Kalpin said. "They didn't allow many second shots. We didn't give up many three-point looks, and they pressured the ball well."
The Silverstreaks played with confidence throughout the tournament this season, and that was again evident in a tough loss last Friday night. Osakis came in as the four seed in the west subsection and upended top seeded Morris-Area/Chokio-Alberta in the semifinals and third seeded Minnewaska in the finals.
"It was very tough to lose this game," Kalpin said. "But the girls have nothing to hang their heads about. They exceeded the expectations of many people and proved that they belong and can compete on the AA level.
"This team improved so much over the course of the regular season and was playing their best basketball by the time subsection play started. I can't be any more proud of this team and their effort that they gave all year. They believed that they could accomplish the goals that we reached this year and did that by working hard."
The Silverstreaks ended with a 21-8 overall record and a perfect 12-0 season in the Prairie Conference. They will take a 36 game league-winning streak into the season with them next year.
If they are going to extend that, they will have to do it without the help of a strong senior class that will be lost to graduation this spring. Larson, Whitney Lee, Rachael Grundman, Jacque Quistorff and Kelsey Proell all finished up strong Osakis careers with the trip to the section finals.
"It's especially tough to see the high school basketball careers of our five seniors end," Kalpin said. "As a coach, losing the game isn't the toughest part. It's seeing these girls play their last game in an Osakis uniform. They are an outstanding group of girls, and they will be missed."
OSAKIS 20 9 - 29
NEW LONDON-SPICER 20 14 - 34
OSAKIS LEADERS - Whitney Lee - 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Jacque Quistorff - 2 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists; Kelsie Larson - 15 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks; Rachael Grundman - 1 point, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals; Kelsey Proell - 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals; Alicia Wagner - 3 points