Basketball in March typically brings upsets and Cinderella stories. The Royalton Royals came close to checking off those boxes on Thursday night in Osakis, but the Silverstreaks proved to be too much in the first round of the Section 6AA tournament.
The sixth-seeded Silverstreaks (14-5) took care of business in a 65-42 victory despite a 17-2 run by the 11th-seeded Royals (8-11) in a second-half comeback effort.
"We just got careless with the ball," junior center Brady Mages said. "(The Royals) were jumping everything. It's the younger guys. The non-experience gets to you sometimes. I think a lot of them were nervous with this being their first playoff game on varsity. (Royalton) was physical, and they never let us have it easy. I think that got to them."
Osakis led 34-20 at the half. The lead had been 19, but three turnovers in the final 1:30 led to a 7-2 run by the Royals. That run turned into a 17-2 burst. Royalton scored the first 10 points out of the break. Osakis' 19-point lead dwindled to 34-30 score early in the second half.
"Royalton is very physical," Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. "They just hustle non-stop, so sometimes those energy plays get the momentum going. We had that 14-point lead, and then they cut it to four. I think we may have froze up a little bit. We were a little too timid with the basketball. We maybe took some shots we aren't accustomed to taking. Give (Royalton) credit. They hit some shots."
Osakis fought back with a vengeance on an 11-0 run. Once the Silverstreaks regained a double-digit lead, they never let go. Mages had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Bauer Klimek led all scorers with 20 points.
Klimek and Mages were crucial in getting Osakis out of its mid-game slump.
"We said before the game their defense is weak in the post, the corners and in the mid-post areas," Hoelscher said. "We talked about not settling for that corner three. We want to penetrate off the baseline and work high to low. Carter (Watnaas) and Brady executed that very well."
The post was a mismatch nightmare for Royalton. The Osakis forwards were able to clean up on the glass and get to the rim cleanly. Exploiting the mismatch in the paint was a goal from the tip.
"We could penetrate for a shot or kick it out to somewhere," Mages said. "When you get down there three against two, you have a better chance of getting an open look."
The 11-0 Osakis run turned into a 29-6 stretch for the Silverstreaks. Watnaas got to the rim late in the second half for a three-point play opportunity to take a 20-point lead.
The Silverstreaks' win moved them into the second round of the Section 6AA tournament at third-seeded Annandale (15-1) at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
"This next team is going to be solid," Mages said. "We're going to have to be solid the whole way if we want to come out of there with a win."
If Osakis defends as it did against Royalton, they will have a chance to hang with the top seeds in the 6AA field. Before Royalton's run, the Silverstreaks forced a plethora of contested shots and turnovers, which led to points on the other end of the court.
"We thought our man-to-man was good right way," Hoelscher said. "Sometimes we had matchup issues, so then we went into a zone. It worked for a while until we gave up too many offensive rebounds. We came out with a zone in the second half, which opened up some threes for them. Then we went back into our man defense. That saved us tonight. We have to be good on the defensive end to win. I thought we were good most of the game tonight."
OSAKIS 34 31 - 65
ROYALTON 20 22 - 42
OSAKIS- Mekai Hoelscher 2 assists; Kellen Anderson 5 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds; Kyle Mages 12 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals; Isaac Maddock 1 steal; Bauer Klimek 20 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound; Chayce Meyer 1 point, 1 rebound; Carter Watnaas 8 points, 1 assist,2 blocks, 9 rebounds; Brady mages 17 points, 4 assists, 12 rebounds; Aaron Nack 1 rebound