Boys basketball: Osakis wins a thriller in closing seconds to stay unbeaten
It’s at the point in the season where any program that plays the Osakis boys basketball team is going to come in with the mindset that it wants to be the one.
Everyone wants to knock the Silverstreaks from their claim as the only undefeated program left in the state in Class AA. Sauk Centre came close on Tuesday night in front of a big crowd in Osakis. Close wasn’t quite good enough, though, as the Silverstreaks upped their record to 21-0 with a 70-68 win over the Mainstreeters.
“I’ve said about our guys all year that it will be interesting to see how we play against high-level competition,” Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. “We knew Sauk Centre had a great team, so for us to come out and have a lead and then lose it. I think we were down six at one point, and guys just battled back. We just made the plays when we had to.”
Sauk Centre is under .500 at 10-12, but one would never know it by how the Mainstreeters played on Tuesday. They weathered a torrid second half from Osakis junior guard Daniel Savageau and led 68-67 with 25 seconds left.
Savageau had 29 points, but it was one of his five assists that set up the game-winner. He drove the right side of the lane as the defense collapsed. Savageau forced a double team and hit a cutting Brandon Boogaard for a floater that gave Osakis a 69-68 lead it never relinquished after two more defensive stops.
“My first option was to look corner for Luke (Imdieke) for the three,” Savageau said. “Then I saw Brandon roll on that, and I knew he was going to hit it. I trusted him.”
It was the closest game the Silverstreaks have played in all season. Sauk Centre trailed by five at the half but led 53-47 with 10:30 left after a Jacob Jennissen bucket.
Jennissen is a 7-foot junior center who altered Osakis shots all night. He had just six points, but the attention he draws led to good looks for guys like Steven Namvar (17 points), Logan Suelflow (15 points) and Jackson Berscheid (15 points), who all knocked down big shots to give their team a chance at pulling off the upset.
“He’s a game changer on both ends,” Hoelscher said of Jennissen. “Basketball is all about matchups and we don’t match up against 7 feet very well. We were really focusing on making sure he didn’t get easy baskets. Then we talked about that we have to drive and challenge him. I think he still ended up with probably about 12 blocks, but we said, ‘Go at him, but let’s get cutters on the back side.’ We got that with Boogaard a little bit.”
Boogaard had 14 points and eight rebounds. He and Savageau were catalysts in the second half after Imdieke was dominant in the first half.
Imdieke, a junior guard, is often content getting others involved, but he was as aggressive as he’s been all season through the first 18 minutes. A layup at the halftime buzzer gave him 17 of his 18 total points as he carried Osakis to a 39-34 lead.
“I was just going in and playing more aggressive,” Imdieke said. “My teammates had a lot of trust in me, so I just came out aggressive. I’m confident in myself and my teammates have confidence in me. When I have the chance, I’m going to take advantage of it.”
Of the 20 wins Osakis had coming into Tuesday night, just four had come by single digits. The Silverstreaks have easily handled most of their competition this winter, which is why Hoelscher loved the way all his guys responded when faced with adversity against Sauk Centre.
“It’s huge and it gains confidence all around with a lot of players,” he said. “I can’t talk because I’m still breathing heavy. I’m sweating, but this is what we play for.”
Hoelscher admits he never imagined being exactly where Osakis is at this point in the season. He knew he had a good team that was capable of getting to 20 wins overall. But 21-0?
“These guys have exceeded my expectations big time,” Hoelscher said. “I’m just proud of the way they come in and practice, proud of the way they battle in games. We got some guys who love big-time moments. To see them play well in games like this, it just gives us confidence, reassurance that when we play those section games, we’re not going to fret. We’ll play our way through it and see what happens.”
The Section 8AA Tournament starts on March 7. Osakis has just five games left in the regular season, including a much-anticipated matchup with Melrose (18-4) on Feb. 25 back in Osakis.
“We’re excited for Melrose,” Savageau said. “We love those atmosphere games and the games that are going to get us ready close to playoffs, so it’s going to be really fun.”
Osakis is proud of what it has accomplished to this point. It’s impossible for the Silverstreaks not to think about the wins as they continue to pile up, but they have bigger goals in mind with the postseason now almost two weeks away.
“We think about it, but it’s nothing we rely on,” Imdieke said. “We know the job’s not done. We’re trying to make a deep run in the playoffs, and 21-0 is just a number.”
OSAKIS 39 31 - 70
SAUK CENTRE 34 34 - 68
OSAKIS TOTALS - FG - 26-62; Three-point FG - 9-21; FT - 9-11; Assists - 13; Blocks - 1; Rebounds - 18; Steals - 10; Turnovers - 5
OSAKIS - Johnny Lara - 3 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds; Luke Imdieke - 18 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 4 steals; Kobie Lara - 4 points, 1 block, 5 steals; Carter Grove - 2 points, 1 rebound; Luke Staloch - 3 rebounds; Carter Rost - 1 assist; Daniel Savageau - 29 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds; Brandon Boogaard - 14 points, 2 assists, 8 rebounds, 1 steal
SAUK CENTRE SCORING - Steven Namvar - 17; Logan Suelflow - 15; Macoy Thiesen - 4; Casey Schirmers - 11; Jackson Berscheid - 15; Jacob Jennissen - 6