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Osakis boys finding their rhythm with third straight win

The Silverstreaks held Browerville-Eagle Valley without a field goal for almost 12 minutes of game time on Thursday night as they improved to 3-1 with an easy win over the Tigers.

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Osakis sophomore guard Kyle Mages floats to the basket for a layup against Browerville-Eagle Valley on Dec. 16, 2021. Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

The Osakis boys basketball team is finding a rhythm after a third straight win on Thursday in a game they controlled from start to finish against Prairie Conference rival Browerville-Eagle Valley.

Osakis (3-1) held the Tigers (1-2) without a field goal for almost 12 minutes of game time. That led to a 23-2 lead before Browerville-Eagle Valley’s Reis Irsfeld hit a three from the left wing. The damage had already been done as the Silverstreaks cruised to a 62-38 win.

“What stood out to me was our defensive effort,” Osakis senior guard Bauer Klimek said. “Our defense should be really good. We got size, we got length, we got speed. We should be a really good defense and use that to our advantage a lot this year.”

Klimek and senior center Brady Mages offer the Silverstreaks a nice 1-2 punch of guys on the perimeter and the post with a bunch of experience. Mages had 10 points against the Tigers, and Klimek had 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He was 3-of-8 from three and kept the defense honest by driving to the basket where he was 5-of-6 from inside the arc.

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Osakis senior guard Bauer Klimek gets free for a layup in front of the defense of Browerville-Eagle Valley's Reis Irsfeld on Dec. 16, 2021. Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

“I’m feeling really good right now,” Klimek said. “After playing varsity for a few years, I feel like I’m playing good, and when my shot’s not falling I’ve been able to finish. That kind of opens everything up, and my shot has been falling lately, which is good.”

Head coach Matt Hoelscher was excited about the depth that Osakis showed on Thursday. The Silverstreaks shot 44% (25-of-56) and had six players with at least 5 points. Junior guard Stewart Jones had 10 points. Sophomore guard Mekai Hoelscher added 8, and fellow sophomore guard Kyle Mages finished with 7.

“If we want to be a good team, we can’t rely on one or two guys scoring,” Matt Hoelscher said. “It was nice to see other guys get in the stat book. Stewart had a great half, just being active on the offensive end. Any time he slashes and can get to the offensive glass he’s tough to stop. And some of our guys didn’t shoot well. You add that shooting into the mix, and we’re pretty excited about our team.”

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Osakis junior guard Stewart Jones puts in a basket during the first half of the Silverstreaks' win over Browerville-Eagle Valley on Dec. 16, 2021. Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

The Silverstreaks have been good offensively the last few games, scoring 81 in a win over Paynesville Area and 71 in beating Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa. Osakis is averaging 67.5 points per game, third most in the 16-team Section 6AA field.

The Tigers tried to slow down the Silverstreaks by playing a zone defense that Osakis was aggressive attacking. Senior forward Carter Watnaas was not asked to score a lot, but he had three assists and nine rebounds. He made a nice pass to a cutting Jones for an easy layup late in the first half after Watnaas dissected the defense from the free throw line.

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“They were playing zone and we just ran some high/low flash cutters,” Matt Hoelscher said. “We got it to the high post and just cut backside. We had a lot of that tonight in their 3-2 zone. We found the middle gap, found the short corner and guys were just staying active, which you have to do against zone. If you just stay stagnant, pass it around and expect to shoot threes, if you’re not hot it’s not going to work.”

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Osakis senior forward Carter Watnaas, 24, passes to a cutting Stewart Jones for an easy layup during the Silverstreaks' win over Browerville-Eagle Valley on Dec. 16, 2021. Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Hoelscher likes the growth his players have shown over the last year in trusting each other and making the pass to open teammates instead of trying to do too much individually. The Silverstreaks have nearly everyone back from a group that went 14-6 last winter.

Athletes like Jones, fellow junior guard Isaac Maddock and a group of guys who got playing time as freshman like Mekai Hoelscher, Kyle Mages and Drew Imdieke are all a year older now with that experience under their belt.

“It’s gotten a lot easier with the help of the team,” Jones said. “Last year was really fast for me. This year, the pace has gone down tremendously.”

One of the biggest changes for Osakis is how guys have gotten bigger physically with an extra year.

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“They’ve grown in the weight room,” Matt Hoelscher said. “We got guys that are strong. As 9th-graders and 10th-graders last year going against seniors they were getting pushed around. Now it’s fun to see some of those guys get in the mix a little bit. We still need to get into conditioning shape because we’re still missing too many bunnies.”

Hoelscher knows the Silverstreaks need to continue showing growth throughout the season. There are times they settle for shots too early in a possession, he said. Defensively, guys have shown flashes of trying to do too much, which can leave them out of position.

“But 38 points, that’s a great defensive game,” Hoelscher said. “Offensively, we have a lot of guys who can play guard. Brady can dribble it up if he needs to. Chayce Meyer is a big, solid kid who can take guys off the dribble. Having multiple guys who can play point and shoot from the outside, that’s what we like about our team. Now we just need to realize where in the game are the shots we want to get.”

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Osakis sophomore Mekai Hoelscher puts up a floater along the baseline during the Silverstreaks win over Browerville-Eagle Valley on Dec. 16, 2021. Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

The Section 6AA field is still sorting itself out right now so early in the season, but Klimek said this is a group with high hopes of making a deep run come tournament time. After a 58-56 loss to Eden Valley-Watkins (3-2) on Dec. 3, the Silverstreaks have responded with three straight wins and shown the kind of team they believe they can be this year.

“We were pretty down after that first loss because we thought coming in we were a good team,” Matt Hoelscher said. “To lose that game, credit to Eden Valley, but we had a lot of self-induced wounds that didn’t give us a chance to win. We’re getting more active now. Hopefully Eden Valley woke a sleeping giant and we can come in and pound teams, but we have a tough schedule. Christmas break tournament against Rockford and Providence Academy, those teams are solid. We can’t wait to match up against those teams just to see where we’re really at.”

OSAKIS (3-1) 36 26 - 62

BROWERVILLE-EAGLE VALLEY (1-2) 20 18 - 38

OSAKIS TOTALS - FG - 25-56; Three-point FG - 6-17; FT - 6-8; Assists - 13; Blocks - 3; Rebounds - 36; Steals - 8; Deflections - 10; Turnovers - 14

OSAKIS - Stewart Jones - 10 points, 2 assists, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 deflection; Tyler Hagen - 1 rebound; Ben Berger - 1 block, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Isaac Maddock - 1 rebound, 2 deflections; Kyle Mages - 7 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals; Bauer Klimek - 19 points, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 1 deflection; Drew Imdieke - 1 assist, 2 rebounds; Chayce Meyer - 5 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds; Mekai Hoelscher - 8 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds, 2 deflections; Carter Watnaas - 3 points, 3 assists, 9 rebounds; Brady Mages - 10 points, 1 assist, 1 block, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 deflections

BROWERVILLE SCORING - Kayden Tabatt - 2; Hans Puck - 2; Marshall Murch - 1; Reis Irsfeld - 6; Miguel Maloney - 13; Parker Duncan - 9; Dominic Decock - 2; Reed Webster - 3

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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