As much as any winter team in the area, Osakis boys basketball has key fixtures to replace in the lineup with Daniel Savageau, Luke Imdieke, Kobie Lara, Carter Grove and Luke Staloch all graduated after being All-Prairie Conference players last winter.
That group had a lot to do with Osakis piling up 94 wins over the past four years. While replacing them looks like quite a task on paper, it’s also a great opportunity for new athletes to step in and leave their own mark on the program.
“Our expectations on the court are to compete and give ourselves a chance to win every game we play,” head coach Matt Hoelscher said. “I think a lot of people feel our team won't achieve much due to losing some seniors that have played major roles for us in the past, but I think we will surprise teams. The guys we have returning may not have played a lot of varsity minutes last year, but they had great seasons at the (junior varsity) level and we anticipate they will carry that success over to this year.”
Hoelscher likes the length and size the Silverstreaks have to work with. Brady Mages is a big post presence who should see an increased role this winter.
Bauer Klimek is back as a junior guard after earning all-conference honors as a sophomore. Klimek was second on the team with 57 threes made as he shot 36.1% from deep.
“We like our length and size and feel we can create mismatches in the post offensively,” Hoelscher said. “There will be times where we have 2-3 guys on the floor who can play in the post, so we hope to utilize that and play the game inside/out, rather than rely on outside shooting like we have in the past.”
That might lead to a different style of play than the fast tempo that Osakis tormented conference teams with in recent years with a more guard and wing-heavy lineup.
“If we can stay out of foul trouble, get into basketball shape, and maximize possessions on offense by taking great shots, we like our chances in the conference and think we can be a tough matchup in the section,” Hoelscher said.
The pandemic has forced teams to have to make adjustments, whether that’s with scheduling or safety protocols in place like having to wear a mask while playing, or practicing in smaller groups. Hoelscher said the way the Silverstreaks approach the season won’t change in terms of the way they game plan and the work ethic they try to instil in players.
“We will approach every situation the only way we can, and that's with the mindset of moving forward and making the best of it,” Hoelscher said. “We focus on what we can control and that's our attitude, effort and willingness to make adjustments to schedule changes. We will cherish every practice and game we get this season and do our best to improve as players and coaches.”
The biggest question Hoelscher has with this team is who will step up into the leadership roles that those seniors left vacant after graduation? That is on and off the court.
“There are opportunities for players to take the reins and hold their teammates accountable when it comes to attending virtual workouts and focus on improving their game, holding them accountable in the classroom to get their grades where they need to be, and leading by example when it comes following the guidelines and restrictions not only on the court, but in school and outside of school as well,” Hoelscher said. “Those are the little things that we stress as a coaching staff.”
This team has had limited contact on the court since last season due to the pandemic. Hoelscher is excited to see who is ready to step up and grab available spots on the roster.
“We will see who was self disciplined and motivated enough to give themselves a chance to compete for playing time,” Hoelscher said. “So finding leaders will be crucial for us when it comes to us reaching our potential on the court and in life beyond high school.”
2021 OSAKIS BOYS BASKETBALL
SENIORS - Kellen Anderson, Jarron Kurth, Waylon Muenzhuber
JUNIORS - Tyler Hagen, Bauer Klimek, Brady Mages, Chayce Meyer, Aaron Nack, Carter Watnaas, Marcus Wolf
SOPHOMORES - Joe Aaser, Stewart Jones, Aaron Kallstrom, Logan Karnes, Isaac Maddock, Maverick Roering
FRESHMEN - Tyler Baumgartner, Ben Berger, Blake Bouldin, Mason Grove, Mekai Hoelscher, Andrew Imdieke, Jacob Johanson, Kyle Mages, Eddie Schmidtbauer, Wyatt Sell, Chase Triebenbach
OSAKIS BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Jan. 14 vs. Upsala, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 19 vs. LPGE, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 22 vs. St. John’s Prep, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 28 at St. John’s Prep, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 29 vs. Melrose, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 4 vs. Browerville-EV, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Holdingford, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 8 at Swanville, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Upsala, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 16 at Eden Valley-Watkins, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 18 at LPGE, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 23 vs. Little Falls, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 26 vs. Albany, 7:15 p.m.
March 2 vs. Swanville, 7:15 p.m.
March 4 vs. Sauk Centre, 7:15 p.m.
March 5 at Browerville-EV, 7:15 p.m.
March 11 at Minnewaska, 7:15 p.m.
March 12 vs. Morris Area, 7:15 p.m.