Osakis girls basketball coach Pat Kalpin likes the athleticism and energy this year’s team has the ability to play with, and that effort showed in the Silverstreaks’ season-opening win over Paynesville on Tuesday night.
Osakis, coming off a 10-8 record from last winter, swarmed the Bulldogs defensively in taking a 32-14 lead into halftime. Paynesville scored the first five points of the second half, but Osakis stopped the bleeding with a Tessa Stanek layup.
The Silverstreaks never wavered from there as they built their lead to 49-25 after a Lexi Spychalla three with five minutes left on the way to a 62-36 win.
“We started with a lot of energy,” senior guard Alexis Johanson said. “That really helps with the bench and on the court. There’s a lot of veterans on the team, so the leadership out there was outstanding at guiding people where to go. Shots were not falling right away, but we got back on defense and that helped lead to more opportunities.”
Johanson is one of those experienced players back for this group, and she finished with 10 points. Fellow senior guard Mara VanNyhuis added 15. Those two will be looked upon to provide a scoring punch for the Silverstreaks all season.
“For sure. It’s not any secret to anybody who watches us play or scouts us,” Kalpin said. “Those two have been playing a long time. That’s expected, but they need people to step up and score to help them out. If they can stay consistent and score, we’ll be good. They both got a lot of good looks tonight, and they missed some shots. Those will go as the season goes on.”
Osakis got that balanced scoring behind VanNyhuis and Johanson on Tuesday. Ten different players scored in all. Junior post player Kiley Kranz had 10 points, and sophomore forward Carlee Muenzhuber added 9.
Kranz and Muenzhuber are part of a group of athletes who have an opportunity to play themselves into big roles on this team. Kalpin played 11 against the Bulldogs and said he feels good about playing a 9-player rotation on a regular basis unless something changes to force him to alter that.
“Their effort was all good,” Kalpin said. “It doesn’t surprise me the way they came in and played because I’ve been seeing it in practice. It’s a group right now that as a coaching staff as we evaluate them, they’re so close. It’s a good thing because the scoring balance we had is kind of a coach’s dream. We have to have go-to people in tight situations, but to get in that flow and get comfortable was important.”
The offense might be tougher to come by against the best teams on the schedule, but Osakis’ defense should consistently be there this season.
“We’re trying to play in the full court a little bit and pick people up,” Kalpin said. “The intensity was where it needed to be. That helps make good things happen for us. Obviously there’s things we have to work on, but the effort is No. 1, and that’s what we’ve been harping on since day one.”
It’s a message that players looked to have heard clearly as they exerted a lot of effort on the defensive side of the ball all night in frustrating the Bulldogs. Senior Maddie Hentges was Paynesville’s lone player in double figures with 11 points.
“We’ll be pretty good (defensively) and create quite a few steals and turnovers,” Johanson said. “We’re always a pretty defense-oriented team. We play a lot of man and sometimes mix it up with the zone. With this team, we have a lot of fast girls who can hustle so that’s really an emphasis with our game.”
It was a good start to the season for the Silverstreaks as they get ready to go on the road on Friday night at Morris.
“We’re going to run into teams that handle (our pressure) just fine, but it’s good because we have depth,” Kalpin said. “I have nine kids that I can run in and out of there. We can hopefully stay fresh in that regard. The effort was great tonight. I loved it.”
OSAKIS 62, PAYNESVILLE 36
OSAKIS SCORING - Tessa Stanek - 3; Lexi Spychalla - 3; Mara VanNyhuis - 15; Alexis Johanson - 10; Hayleigh Niehoff - 2; Maddi Anderson - 2; Carlee Muenzhuber - 9; Taylor Dirkes - 3; Madi Collins - 5; Kiley Kranz - 10
PAYNESVILLE SCORING - Grace Roberg - 5; Emma Flanders - 5; Maddie Hentges - 11; Mikayla Roberg - 3; Kylie Pauls - 2; Paige Ludwig - 4; Katie Uhlenkamp - 6