Osakis girls' basketball: Proving the doubters wrongOsakis might not have been widely known as a section contender two months ago, but that’s starting to change after another big win.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Doubters of the Osakis girls’ basketball team seem to be dwindling with every win this team gets.
The Silverstreaks haven’t been ranked in the Class AA polls all season despite a now 17-2 record. That includes a win over a team that was ranked third at the time in Sauk Centre on January 8. Even after that victory, people still seemed to be taking a wait-and-see approach on a group of players who were coming off a 16-10 season.
Head coach Pat Kalpin said he rarely talks to his girls about the rankings, and says he likes the position they have been in as underdogs. But after a 72-62 win over conference rival Upsala on Monday night, his team might not be able to fly under the radar for much longer.
“I feel like we all knew that we could win,” junior forward Madi Forsell said of facing a Cardinals team that had beaten the Silverstreaks seven straight times. “We just had to come into the game with confidence and put it all out on the floor. I think we might have surprised quite a few people. We might be viewed as the underdogs because they were first in the conference. So I think we were able to make a big statement by beating them.”
Forsell was an integral part of that after finishing with a team-high 20 points. Eighteen of those came in the second half after Kalpin had challenged her at the break to be more aggressive with her shot.
“She was great,” Kalpin said. “At halftime, I talked to her. I was pretty stern with her. She’s a great shooter. She is just kind of a hidden talent that we have, and it showed tonight. Word’s getting out. She’s one of the big reasons we beat Sauk Centre and a big reason we won tonight.”
Osakis had players step up all over the court on a night when so much was on the line. Upsala was trying to extend its winning streak to 57 games in match-ups against Prairie Conference opponents. The Cardinals were also trying to all but wrap up another league title by creating a two-game gap between them and Osakis.
The Silverstreaks were having none of that from the opening tip. Brooke Sorenson set the tone with two quick three-pointers to help her team jump out to a 10-0 lead that forced Upsala to use its first timeout. Sorenson finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the first half, to go along with seven assists. Annalise Savageau added 16 points and 11 through the first 18 minutes to help her team to a 35-31 lead at the break.
“I told the girls, ‘You got to make them come in and beat you,’ ” Kalpin said. “ ‘Don’t beat yourself. If you play your hardest and you play your best game and they still beat you – congratulations. But make them come in and beat you because I don’t know if they can.’ I really think that was the mindset going into the game.”
The Silverstreaks never played with any hesitation throughout the night. Even when Upsala made a run in the first half and took its only lead of 21-19, Osakis had an answer. Sophomore guard Mackenzie Staloch was a big part of that as she made four straight free throws and added two more buckets to score all eight of her points before the break.
“When you come out making shots, it kind of gets things rolling,” Sorenson said. “We [had] to get out early and couldn’t really have any stretches where you stop working hard. It’s great to play in games that are close and big. When the fans are cheering for us, it just helps.”
The fans got behind this team as it started to pull away in the second half. The Silverstreaks led by as many as 16 with 10 minutes left and kept Upsala at an arm’s length down the stretch.
“This was one of my goals for the season was just to beat Upsala,” Savageau said. “We have lost to them the past three or four years, and we wanted it super bad. I think it helps because Upsala, they’re a class lower, but they’re still in the top 10.”
This group is gaining a little more confidence with every win. They believe they can compete with any team left on their schedule, and rightfully so. Osakis’ only losses have come against Class A’s third-ranked team in Parkers Prairie (17-0) and this same Upsala team by eight points on December 20. The Silverstreaks are currently 8-0 against teams from the Section 6AA field. This is the kind of success they envisioned once a young nucleus of players finally grew up.
“A lot of these kids have been playing since 8th, 9th grade,” Kalpin said. “We’ve taken our lumps. This Upsala team has beaten us bad a few years ago. I knew that if we just weathered the storm, you fight through it, you just take steps. You’re not going to get good overnight. You’re not going to get great in a year, but if you just keep fighting, through experience you get better.”
Osakis bought into that message and is being rewarded for that with a special season to this point. The Silverstreaks knew this was a possibility all along. They never needed a top 10 ranking to tell them that.
“I knew we were going to be good this year because we have a lot of varsity experience,” Savageau said. “We know what to expect, and we have played a lot of good teams before. I thought we could beat teams like this.”
OSAKIS 35 37 – 72
UPSALA 31 31 – 62
OSAKIS TOTALS – FG – 25-47; Three-point FG – 5-10; Free throws – 17-23; Assists – 18; Blocks – 3; Rebounds – 27; Steals – 9
OSAKIS – Staloch – 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Tayler Waldvogel – 2 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Rachelle Rajdl – 1 point; Savageau – 16 points, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 4 rebounds; Sorenson – 14 points, 7 assists, 1 block, 5 rebounds, 2 steals; Br. Sadlemyer – 8 points, 2 assists, 7 rebounds; Becka Sadlemyer – 3 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds, 2 steals; Forsell – 20 points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals
UPSALA SCORING – Brooke Westrich – 9; Pelzer – 16; Katie Ripplinger – 2; Danica Cheney – 2; Kristin Wuebkers – 2; Sara Herzog – 6; Tracy Herzog – 14; Katlin Welinski – 6; Alissa Zehrer – 5