Boys basketball: Silverstreaks overcome a slow start to beat Melrose

Osakis fell behind 8-0 early, but led by a strong defensive effort, pulled out a close win in a big Section 6AA game over Melrose.

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Osakis' Mekai Hoelscher drives the ball to the free throw line during the first half of the team's 46-43 win over Melrose on Feb. 14, 2023. Hoelscher had eight points in the win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

OSAKIS - Leading for the majority of its game against the Melrose Area Dutchmen on Tuesday, the Osakis boys basketball team held a 46-43 lead with nine seconds left after a pair of Isaac Maddock made free throws and needed one final defensive stop.

Melrose's Conner Engelmeyer, who had 15 points on the night, got off a shot from the right wing, which rattled out, and Osakis held on to win a key Section 6AA game and improve to 16-5 (4-1 Section 6AA) on the season.

"Being up three with nine seconds and them not having any timeouts left, we said, 'Our feet don't go inside the three-point line. Let them drive and take a layup because they can't stop the clock,'" Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. "We had to switch every screen, and they still got a pretty good look with Engelmeyer. A lot of the stuff our guys have to learn on the fly. We've got some guys with some high IQs, and we were able to get it done."

At the end of the first half, Melrose made it a one-score game, 24-22 Osakis, after an Isaac Rosenberger buzzer-beater from mid-range.

"Those situational things are what we have to get better at," Hoelscher said.


With two and a half minutes left in the game, Osakis' Mekai Hoelscher hit a big three-pointer from the corner, which extended Osakis' lead to five (43-38).

"I missed a few open looks in the first half, but with having confidence and with guys like Stewart finding me in the corner and having faith and trust in me, I have to hit those shots, and there I did," Mekai said.

While the ending was nice for Osakis, Tuesday's game was a struggle to start in the first handful of minutes.

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Osakis' Grant Mages (black) puts up a shot from the paint during the team's 46-43 win over Melrose on Feb. 14, 2023. Mages had six points in the team's win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Osakis was held scoreless by the Dutchmen (12-8, 2-4 Section 6AA) defense for the first six minutes of the game and trailed 8-0.

The Silverstreaks responded well by going on a 9-0 run in the next four minutes and never gave the lead back, thanks to their strong defense all around.

"The game is full of a bunch of runs, and right away, we couldn't guard them offensively in our man defense," Coach Hoelscher said. "So switching to our zone defense really helped us out; it kind of slowed them down a little bit. We were able to get out and run in transition, get a couple of steals, and then we kind of calmed down, and we made some shots. So we just kind of weathered the storm a little bit."

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Osakis' Isaac Maddock (left) goes up for a contested shot over Melrose's Gor Reuy (right) in the early stages of a game on Feb. 14, 2023. Maddock knocked down some key free throws in Osakis' 46-43 win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

In addition to Engelmeyer's 15 points, Gor Reuy had 16 points for the Dutchmen on Tuesday.

Stewart Jones led the Osakis offense with 11 points, while Hoelscher had eight.


Jones and Kyle Mages, who had six points on the night, were saddled with a bit of foul trouble in the game, but the Silverstreaks had nice minutes from Drew Imdieke and Seth Staloch off the bench.

Staloch has provided a lot of big minutes in recent games off the bench, along with Imdieke's production.

"His minutes were huge," Coach Hoelscher said of Staloch. "We didn't have Kyle or Stewart for a good chunk of the game, but Seth came up huge. He's so long and athletic; he rebounds well, affects shots, and he played more than he normally does. So for him to really anchor down that post defensively was tremendous."

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Osakis' Seth Staloch lines up a corner three-pointer during the second half of Osakis' 46-43 win over Merlose on Feb. 14, 2023. Staloch played some big minutes off the bench for the Silverstreaks in the win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

The Silverstreaks have now won six out of their last seven games. One night prior to Tuesday's win, the Silverstreaks earned a nice 81-62 win over the Little Falls Flyers (13-9, Class AAA).

"This is great because the best teams get hot before March," Mekai said. "When it comes to be March, we have to be ready."

Coming into the night, Melrose was the fifth-highest-rated team in the section in the QRF rankings on, while Osakis was third.

Osakis was only behind Albany (20-1, 10-0 Section 6AA) and Mora (16-3, 5-2 Section 6AA) in the section standings before Tuesday's game and are looking to climb.

Osakis has just one Section 6AA game left in the regular season, on Thursday, Feb. 23, at home against Sauk Centre (15-5, 4-1 Section 6AA).


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Osakis' Stewart Jones (2) goes up for a contested layup in a game on Feb. 14, 2023, against Melrose. Jones had a team-high 11 points in the team's 46-43 win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

"I think we're very athletic," Coach Hoelscher said when asked about team strengths heading toward the end of the season. "We don't have a true post, but we can spread the floor and get to the rim. If other guys besides Mekai, Isaac, and Drew are hitting threes, we're very dangerous. You throw in Seth, Stewart, and the Mages boys; that's versatility right there. We have to use that offensively. And defensively, we have to use our speed and wear teams down. We've got some things to clean up on our defensive post-play and switching, but we definitely have a lot of athleticism."

Last season, Osakis earned the No. 4 seed (25-4 overall, 6-1 Section 6AA) and made it to the section semifinals, where it lost 54-52 to eventual state champion Annandale.

The Silverstreaks host Upsala (5-15) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.

Melrose - 22 21 - 43

Osakis - 24 22 - 46

MELROSE SCORING - Isaac Rosenberger, 7; Gor Reuy, 16; Conner Engelmeyer, 15; Connor Anderson, 3; Fernando Estrella Baccera, 1; Hunter Goihl, 1

OSAKIS SCORING - Stewart Jones, 11; Grant Mages, 6; Seth Staloch, 4; Drew Imdieke, 5; Isaac Maddock, 6; Kyle Mages, 6; Mekai Hoelscher, 8

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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