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Slow start dooms Osakis boys in opener

Osakis' Cody DeWenter dives for a loose ball during the Silverstreaks' season opener against Eden Valley-Watkins on Tuesday night. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The Osakis boys’ basketball team doesn’t have the height to battle down low against teams with a lot of size and it didn’t take long for that to hurt this group in the season opener.

Eden Valley-Watkins used the interior play of Jared Streit and Austin Schlangen and the outside shooting of junior guard Bret Mattice to run away from the Silverstreaks and never look back in a 70-32 game on Tuesday night. Streit used his 6’6” frame to dominate the post on his way to a game-high 26 points.

“It was just tough,” Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. “We’ve never faced a team that has two posts like they did tonight. That’s our weakness right now is we have no height. It’s tough with these early games because you can’t really scout so I didn’t expect them to play a 2-3 zone. We made some adjustments at the half and decided we’re going to pack it in and make them shoot outside shots. Then Mattice, he hit some stuff. He’s a great player. Defensively, we held them a lot better because we played that packed zone mentality. We just fell behind too early.”

The Eagles never left any doubt in this one, jumping out to a 20-0 lead before Osakis’ Lane Berberich made a lay-up after driving the right baseline. Mattice had seven of the Eagles’ first 14 points. Berberich had seven points, all in the first half. Freshman John Boogaard led the Silverstreaks with eight points to go along with eight rebounds.

Osakis was without four players tonight who were dealing with injuries, three of which were still lingering from the football season. That opened up some minutes for young guys like Boogaard and sophomore Haden Hendricks. Both those guys started with seniors Drew Fearing, Hunter Scherr and Berberich. Freshman Zachary Weir also got some good minutes on his way to five points, two rebounds and one assist.

“To throw some of these 9th graders and 10th graders in, I’m very pleased with how they played tonight,” Hoelscher said. “Learning to play against this style where the defense is all over you and every pass counts. It’s not going to be as open in a varsity game as it is in a “B” game. Being more physical rebounding and help-side defense. It’s more that team concept where your athleticism can only get you so much at the varsity level when you’re that young. Those guys are students of the game, too. They’re coming along. First game, I’m sure everybody was nervous.”

Those nerves showed early and often as Osakis struggled to hold onto the ball. The Silverstreaks turned it over 23 times. The Eagles were the bigger and more experienced team on Tuesday night, but the effort was there for an Osakis group that knows it needs to hang its hat on those intangibles in order to give itself a chance this season.

“That’s the one thing we tell our guys,” Hoelscher said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re outsized…no one is going to outhustle us. Some of the charges that we took tonight, the diving on the floor, that’s what we have to be.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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