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Boys basketball: Seventh-ranked Osakis overcomes its toughest test against WCA

Osakis' Carter Grove drives into the lane with West Central Area's Grant Beuckens on his hip during Friday night's game in Barrett. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)1 / 7
West Central Area junior forward takes the ball to the basket as Osakis' Brandon Boogaard meets him in the air on Friday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)2 / 7
Osakis senior guard Johnny Lara blocks West Central Area's Jacob Bright from behind during Friday night's non-conference game at WCA. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)3 / 7
Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher directs his team during the first half at West Central Area on Friday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)4 / 7
Osakis' Daniel Savageau (middle) and Brandon Boogaard (right) cut off a drive by West Central Area's Grant Beuckens on Friday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)5 / 7
West Central Area junior guard Jacob Bright looks for his shot against Osakis' Luke Imdieke. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)6 / 7
West Central Area junior guard Blake Koloski shoots a free throw after converting a basket in the lane during the first half against Osakis on Friday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)7 / 7

The Osakis boys basketball team now knows what it feels like to play in a tight game deep into the second half this season.

The Silverstreaks had beaten their first five opponents by almost 24 points per game. On Friday at West Central Area, they had to work hard to fend off an energetic Knights team. In the end, the final result was the same as seventh-ranked Osakis moved to 6-0 with a 64-58 win.

“West Central is a very good team,” Osakis junior guard Daniel Savageau said. “They have (Jack) Van Kempen cleaning up the boards, and (Grant) Beuckens to shoot threes. They are a good team, so it was a good experience to have going into the break.”

West Central Area got the game as close as one at 42-41 after a Tate Christenson drive and score with 8:50 left. The Knights (3-3) could never quite tie it up as Osakis made enough plays down the stretch to secure the win.

“I think a lot of that comes from experience,” Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. “Last year, we played a lot of close games, so Luke (Imdieke), Daniel, Johnny (Lara), Kobie (Lara) and Brandon (Boogaard), they have that experience and they were able to play with poise. I think just that confidence from the guys down the stretch was the biggest positive.”

It was a 50-44 game when the Knights called a timeout with 6:16 left. WCA’s Gage Staples came right out of that timeout and drilled a corner three to make it a 3-point game, but Savageau had an immediate answer two possessions later with a triple of his own.

“You just can’t have any possessions where you leave him,” WCA head coach Kraig Hunter said of Savageau. “They set a lot of screens for him, so your defensive communication has to be great because if you ever lose him just for a second, he drills it. Guys like him, you just want to make it as hard as possible and make him shoot with a hand in his face.”

Savageau is a junior who has established himself as one of the top guards in the area. He finished with a game-high 26 points on 4-of-7 from two and 3-of-8 from three. He also knocked down 9-of-10 free throws to help put the game away.

Savageau has shown his scoring ability since his freshman season. He said his focus on improving his game has centered around pushing the tempo and continuing to find teammates.

“Get guys running and hitting Brandon Boogaard and Kobie Lara in the post a lot,” Savageau said. “That makes a big difference in the game.”

Boogaard finished with 14 points and eight rebounds against the Knights, while Lara chipped in seven points, six rebounds and three steals. Luke Imdieke had 12 points and four assists.

“We didn’t play as many guys as we normally do tonight, but guys like Carter Grove, Jacob Backes, Luke Staloch, the minutes they played I thought they did a nice job,” Hoelscher said. “It’s nice to have that depth we can count on. Playing nine, 10 guys on any given night and having the confidence that they’re going to play defense or they’re going to make the right decisions, that’s huge for us right now.”

The Knights are a similar team that also has a lot of interchangeable parts. Hoelscher called them well coached and a group that can beat opponents with dribble penetration and with multiple guys who can knock down shots.

“They’re a very, very good club,” Hoelscher said. “We were lucky to take a win out of here tonight.”

Grant Beuckens led the Knights with 18 points and seven assists. Gage Staples added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Van Kempen had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.  

“We just played two 6-0 teams and played them really close,” Hunter said. “We did a lot of things well. The thing we told our guys after both games was the difference between playing them close and beating them is just a couple little things. We’re a young team, and we had a couple unforced turnovers. These games come down to one possession against Hancock. Tonight it was two, three possessions. It’s just little things like that.”

The Knights lost by one point against Hancock (6-0) on Dec. 18, part of three losses to teams that are a combined 18-2. WCA has a win over a good Ashby team where it fell behind by 14 and rallied back. On Friday, the Knights trailed 30-21 at the break, but immediately made it clear they were going to stick around in the second half.

“We’re playing well,” Hunter said. “I like how our guys respond. They don’t ever get down. We have guys who are multidimensional, and we’re a pretty well-rounded team. We have high hopes coming after Christmas.”

Both these teams are looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish in the new year. For a young Knights team, it’s about improving every day.

For the Silverstreaks, the same applies as they try to keep positioning themselves for a good seed in the Section 8AA Tournament.

“Last year, we experienced a good run in playoffs,” Savageau said. “We made it to the semifinals, and we’d like to be there again or further, show what we can do in Osakis.”

WCA     21 37 - 58

OSAKIS     30 34 - 64

TOTALS - OSAKIS - FG - 19-40; Three-point FG - 4-14; FT - 22-30; Assists - 7; Blocks - 2; Rebounds - 28; Steals - 10; Turnovers - 10; WCA - FG - 24-50; Three-point FG - 4-12; FT - 6-10; Rebounds - 27

OSAKIS - Jacob Backes - 1 assist, 1 rebound; Johnny Lara - 1 assist, 2 blocks, 3 rebounds; Luke Imdieke - 12 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals; Kobie Lara - 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals; Carter Grove - 2 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Carter Rost - 3 points, 3 rebound; Daniel Savageau - 26 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals; Brandon Boogaard - 14 points, 8 rebounds

WCA - Grant Beuckens - 18 points, 7 assists; Gage Staples - 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists; Jack Van Kempen - 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists; Blake Koloski - 6 points, 3 assists; Teigen Moritz - 4 points, 7 rebounds; Gavin Paulson - 4 points, 3 rebounds; Tate Christenson - 2 points, 2 assists

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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