The Osakis girls basketball team went into Friday’s season-opening game excited to take the court. With a veteran starting lineup returning from the 2019-20 season, the Silvstreak’s aggressive defense shut down the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Thunder with a 44-19 win.

Osakis held LPGE to six first-half points. In the two weeks leading up to the opening contest, getting back to playing tenacious basketball was one focus.

“We feed off each other’s energy, and it’s really fun when we are playing really good defense,” senior Grace Oeltjen said. “To get this team win while playing really good defense is an awesome way to start the season.”

Brooke Breiter (left) and Hayleigh Niehoff put the pressure on an LPGE defender during Osakis' 44-19 win on Friday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Brooke Breiter (left) and Hayleigh Niehoff put the pressure on an LPGE defender during Osakis' 44-19 win on Friday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Alexis Johanson, Mara VanNyhuis, Hayleigh Niehoff and Oeltjen played significant minutes for the Silverstreaks last season, and all started on Friday night. Having experience on the floor allowed head coach Pat Kalpin to let his girls play a full-court defense.

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“I want this team to play full-court like we did tonight because it can be a huge strength for us,” Kalpin said. “I really debated what we should do early on because I didn’t know what kind of shape we’d be in for this game. We played a zone press, where it’s not going to take a ton of stamina out of them. We did play a full-court press at times, and the girls played well. We gave up some things, but the girls did a nice job. Now it’s time to look at the tape and see what we can improve.”

Johanson led all scorers with 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting. She also led Osakis with four steals and five rebounds. VanNyhus had eight points and three rebounds. Osakis’ defense held the Thunder to six total field goals on 45 attempts.

Mara VanNyhuis shoots a three-pointer on Friday night during Osakis' 44-19 win over LPGE at Osakis Secondary. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Mara VanNyhuis shoots a three-pointer on Friday night during Osakis' 44-19 win over LPGE at Osakis Secondary. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

One of the struggles for the Silverstreaks was getting shots to fall. They had many open looks, but the rust on offense took time to shake off. Osakis made 17 shots on 46 attempts.

“We work on moving the ball a lot in practice,” Oeltjen said. “Kalpin wants us to keep moving the ball and look for the open girl. Reversing the ball and not forcing anything is something we’ve been working on in practice. We didn’t shoot great, but that will come.”

Kalpin echoed that same sentiment. He was pleased with the way his girls facilitated and is confident that more shots will go in as the season progresses.

“You could tell we’ve been off for a while,” Kalpin said. “We had nine practices and nothing else. The girls worked so hard, and it was fun to see them out there competing when we didn’t know if they’d get that chance this year. Their focus has been good, and it’s just fun right now.”

Kadyn Triebenbach looks up for a shot in the first half on Friday night during Osakis' 44-19 win over LPGE. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Kadyn Triebenbach looks up for a shot in the first half on Friday night during Osakis' 44-19 win over LPGE. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

LPGE is a young team that will likely go through some growing pains this season. Osakis didn’t know what to expect from the Thunder heading into the game but left with confidence heading into week two.

“Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect,” Kalpin said. “We were so focused on trying to get to play. Moving forward, we can get back to seeing what players each team brings back from next year and what to expect. I lost touch of that for a while. The bottom line is we have to get these girls some experience. We were able to rotate in a lot of girls tonight, and they had a lot of fun. We got to compete tonight, despite all the obstacles.”

LPGE 6 13 - 19

OSAKIS 23 21 - 44

TEAM TOTALS- OSAKIS- FGA- 17-46; 3PA- 7-22; FTA- 3-9; Rebounds- 33; Assists- 13; Steals- 9; Turnovers- 9; LPGE- FG- 6-45; 3PA- 1-20; FTA- 6-16; Rebounds- 40; Assists- 3; Steals- 5; Blocks- 2; Turnovers- 15;

OSAKIS- Tessa Stanek 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals; Larissa Hoffarth 2 points, 1 rebound; Brooke Breiter 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assists; Mara VanNyhuis 8 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 assists; Alexis Johanson 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists; Lexi Klimek 1 rebound, assist; Hayleigh Niehoff 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists; Julianna Collins 2 assists; Grace Oeltjen 2 rebounds, 2 steals; Madi Collins 1 assist; Kiley Kranz 4 points, 2 rebounds; Anna Wolf 1 rebound, 1 assist; Kadym Triebenbach 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist;

LPGE SCORING- Emily Weber 6, Nora Gamradt, Amber Miller 2, Itzel Salazar Cervantes 5, Alyssa Thelen 2