Girls basketball awards: Osakis recognizes breakout season
Senior guard Mara VanNyhuis named team and Prairie Conference MVP for helping the Silverstreaks to a 21-win season.
OSAKIS — The 2021-22 season for the Osakis girls basketball team was the best the program has had in the last half-decade. Osakis finished the season 21-7, its best record since the 2016-17 season when it went 24-4.
“Coming into the season, we knew as a coaching staff what potential this team had,” Osakis head coach Pat Kalpin said. “With many players returning from the year before with experience, we expected to be a very competitive team.”
Outside of a 74-55 loss to Mayer Lutheran (28-5) on Dec. 21, all of the Silverstreaks’ losses came by single digits.
The seniors led the way this season and helped the program win the Prairie Conference title.
Seniors Mara VanNyhuis, Alexis Johanson, Tessa Stanek and Hayleigh Niehoff were All-Prairie Conference selections for the Silverstreaks, while junior Kiley Kranz was an all-conference honorable mention. VanNyhuis earned the conference’s MVP award.
Johanson and VanNyhuis were All-Section 6AA selections. Johanson led the Silverstreaks in scoring with 13.7 points per game while shooting 44.9 percent from the floor. VanNyhuis scored 12.5 points per game on 48.9 percent shooting, while leading the team in rebounds with 162 and in assists with 77.
These two made the academic all-state team, along with seniors Lexi Klimek and Lexi Spychalla. Klimek earned the team’s Silverstreak Award.
VanNyhuis was named the team’s MVP and the defensive player of the year at the team’s season-ending banquet on March 22. She was second on the team in steals with 59, one behind team leader Stanek and one ahead of Niehoff.
Stanek was named the team’s most improved player. She averaged seven points, 2.1 steals and 2.5 rebounds a game.
In addition to averaging over two steals a game, Niehoff averaged 6.9 points and two rebounds.
Kranz led the team in field goal percentage at 52.1 while scoring 5.3 points per game. Johanson led the team in three-point shooting at 34.7% and in free throwing shooting at 83.6%.
Kalpin said it took some time for this team to find its identity but that once they did, they started to play really well.
“Defensively, we were consistent all year, which helped us win a lot of games,” Kalpin said. “The last month or so is when we started to shoot the ball better and play well offensively. We made a concerted effort in the last month and dedicated a good chunk of practices to shooting. I think that helped improve our percentages.”
From Jan. 25 to Feb. 25, the Silverstreaks went on a 10-game winning streak, which helped them secure the No. 4 seed in the section playoffs.
“When I think about this team and everything that they accomplished, I think about how every girl stepped up at one point or another this season,” Kalpin said. “That’s one big reason for this team’s success. They are a team that understood the team-first attitude. It was fun to watch them share the success this entire season. As a coach, that is the greatest thing to be a part of, watching your team celebrate and have fun together.”
Kalpin said that any time this team faced adversity this year, they responded well.
“We had sickness and injuries throughout the season, but they always persevered and stepped up,” Kalpin said. “Even in our last game versus Kimball, being down 18 in the first half and coming back and to make it a game and have a chance to win shows the resiliency of this team. Even though we lost the game, the only thing that went through my mind was how proud I was of them and how fortunate I was to be a part of a great group. For that, I thank the players. It was a fun season, and I really enjoyed coaching this fun group.”