After the Osakis girls basketball team dribbled out the remaining seconds on the clock, not only did they celebrate a 61-47 home win over Browerville-Eagle Valley, but also a Prairie Conference championship.
"After a couple of years of not winning the conference, it's an awesome feeling getting it back," senior Madisen Johanson said. "We've grown so much from when that big group of seniors graduated a while back. We had to figure out our positions and fight to get back to the top."
The Silverstreaks (11-13) and the Tigers (8-13) each came into Thursday night's game with a 6-1 conference record. Earlier this season, B-EV got the better of Osakis with a 45-34 home win. This time around, Osakis was ready for what came at them.
"We got beat on drives a lot the last time we played them," Johanson said. "We made our game plan around protecting the paint, making sure they weren't allowed to attack the hoop and drawing fouls."
Early in the first half, B-EV had an answer for every Osakis bucket. The Silverstreaks put together a string of defensive stops and cruised to a 10-point lead at the halfway point. Madison Johanson had seven points and a block during Osakis' 10-0 run.
"I told the girls after the game that I thought it was the best half we've played all season collectively," head coach Pat Kalpin said. "We played with a purpose. To see them do that, with the conference championship on the line, was pretty fun."
After B-EV called a timeout, Osakis continued to increase the lead. Going to the locker room at halftime, the Silverstreaks led 35-19. Offensively, they found holes in the B-EV defense.
"We finally had a practice before our game, so that really helped us a lot on offense," Johanson said. "We got some time to shoot around and work the ball with each other. The hoop just seemed to be an ocean tonight."
Johanson had a game-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds and four blocks. Her younger sister, Alexis Johanson, added 14 points, and Mara VanNyhuis finished with 10.
The Tigers tried to put together a few runs throughout the second half. At one point, they cut Osakis' lead to 10. However, stout defense from the Silverstreaks was the deciding factor in the 14-point win.
"They made some good runs, and we knew they were going to come after us after the first half," Kalpin said. "Basketball is a game of runs, and we had more runs than they did. That's why we won the game. To see where we've come, from day one to now, is really fun for us coaches. We're going to enjoy this, and come back on Monday with another purpose."
One of the goals for Osakis this season was to add another year onto the conference championship banner hanging in the gym.
"We talked about that with the girls yesterday at practice," Kalpin said. "They'll get to look at that banner and see 2020 on it forever. When they come back to this school and see that, they'll know they're part of that. That's what all of those banners are about, and they left their mark on this program."
After a five-win season a year ago, Johanson and the rest of the senior Silverstreaks have been part of a growing year for a young team. Even though they have a conference title to their name now, there is still work to do.
"It's going to feel so good seeing 2020 on that banner." Johanson said. "We want to keep improving until the playoffs. We want to make the deepest run that we can."
OSAKIS 35 26 - 61
B-EV 19 28 - 47
TOTALS - Osakis - FG - 23-39; Three-point FG - 7-15; FT - 8-13; Rebounds - 24; Assists - 17; Steals - 8; Blocks - 7; Turnovers - 19; Browerville-EV - FG - 17-55; Three-point FG - 5-22; FT - 8-14; Assists - 9; Rebounds - 29; Turnovers - 17
OSAKIS - Alexa Lien - 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal; Mara VanNyhuis - 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal; Alexis Johanson - 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block; Hayleigh Niehoff - 8 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists; Grace Oeltjen - 7 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block; Maddie Johanson - 19 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 4 blocks; Haylee Jern - 1 rebound, 1 steal; Abby Randall - 1 rebound; Kadyn Triebenbach - 1 block
B-EV SCORING - Tyra Myers - 6; Alyah Abrahamson - 6; Anna Myers - 6; Megan Benning - 17; Zoe Hillmer - 8; Jenna Kunerth - 4