The Osakis and West Central Area boys basketball teams weren’t separated by much on Friday night, but the Silverstreaks have a difference-maker at the guard spot who stepped up big in the second half.
Both teams were unbeaten coming into the night and ranked in the top 10 of their class polls through Minnesota Basketball News. Osakis is 10th in the latest AA rankings, and West Central Area comes in at eighth in the Class A rankings.
The game played out as close as one might expect, but Daniel Savageau knocked down four second-half threes to lead Osakis to a 64-59 win.
“Our senior leadership is crazy,” Savageau said. “We’ve been through all these tough situations, and we just stay calm. We don’t panic, and we trust each other.”
West Central Area (4-1) never went away despite Osakis looking like it might extend its lead. The Silverstreaks led 32-23 at the half behind 10 points from senior Luke Imdieke. The Knights responded out of the break with back-to-back threes from Jacob Bright.
Savageau had been quiet in the first half, but he has proven over his career that he likes these tight moments. He responded to Bright’s triples with 11 quick points on a layup and three threes.
“That’s basketball for you. It’s a game of ups and downs, and it’s whoever can stay calm and fight through those times,” Savageau said. “If you have a rough shooting half, you just got to have the same confidence and come out with a chip on your shoulder.”
The Knights knocked down big shots of their own. Gage Staples had a big second half too on his way to a team-high 13 points. His layup cut WCA’s deficit to just 47-43 with 9:37 left.
It was a 58-55 Osakis lead with just under two minutes left when Savageau got the ball at the top of the key. Expecting a shot, the Knights had to play up on him, and he got into the lane to draw the defense before finding Kobie Lara for an easy layup.
“The first half, he takes some deep threes and a lot of people might question that, but if he makes that, it’s a game changer,” Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said of Savageau. “He knows in the second half after he makes some of those and they get close, he can just extend and go by them. You can tell that Kobie has played with him a lot. Kobie’s smart. He knows if you want to score and you have Daniel and Luke on your team, go to the basket and you’re going to get some easy layups.”
Savageau and Lara were both 2-of-2 from the free throw line in one-and-one situations in the final minute to put the game away. Savageau finished with 24 points and five assists. Eighteen of those points came in the second half.
“I told my assistant coaches, you can hold him and hold him and hold him, but he gets a little opening and he can score 10 points very quickly,” WCA head coach Kraig Hunter said. “The out of bounds plays, our kids knew it was coming. Gage Staples is 6’5.” He had a hand up and he shot two of them right over him and made them...He’s a phenomenal player.”
Hunter was proud of the way his guys played as well. The Knights shot 50% from the field and had five players with at least seven points. Bright had 12 and Jack Van Kempen added 11.
“Our kids didn’t want to come here and play close,” Hunter said. “After the game, I looked at them and said, ‘Good job.’ They looked at me, and I said it’s not a good job because we played close, but they had us down 11 and we made stops and made some shots. That’s maturity from last year. Last year, we wouldn’t close that gap. I was just proud of their grit.”
Hunter felt it was a few little things that proved to be the difference in the game. A missed free throw, giving up an offensive rebound -- a team as good as Osakis has a tendency to make opponents pay for those types of miscues.
“We grind it out,” Savageau said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to win. If it’s ugly, we’ll make it happen.”
The Silverstreaks have proven that now through a 7-0 start to the season. Of those seven wins, four of them have come by 10 points or less, including the last two.
Osakis went to Melrose (4-2) on Thursday and found a way to win a close game against the defending Section 6AA champions in a 60-57 final. Following that up by putting away another good team in the Knights showed Hoelscher a little more about his team heading into the Christmas break.
“They got heart. That’s never really a question, but they got heart,” Hoelscher said. “Luke (Imdieke) was banged up with his ankle, but he doesn’t want to come out. Daniel gets in foul trouble and doesn’t want to come out. (Carter) Grove gets a bloody nose and wants to play. All the guys want to play, they all love the moment and they’re ready for it. They’re just a fun group to coach.”
OSAKIS 32 32 - 64
WCA 23 36 - 59
TOTALS - WCA - FG - 22-44; Three-point FG - 7-16; FT - 8-14; Rebounds - 21; Turnovers - 11; OSAKIS - FG - 22-51; Three-point FG - 10-28; FT - 10-13; Assists - 14; Rebounds - 19; Steals - 5; Turnovers - 5
OSAKIS - Luke Imdieke - 14 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals; Kobie Lara - 7 points, 4 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 steals; Carter Grove - 3 points, 1 assist, 1 steal; Luke Staloch - 6 points, 1 block, 2 rebounds; Bauer Klimek - 8 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound; Carter Rost - 1 assist, 2 rebounds; Daniel Savageau - 24 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound; Brady Mages - 2 points, 1 rebound
WCA - Jacob Bright - 12 points, 4 assists, 1 steal; Ryder Staples - 2 points; Grant Beuckens - 9 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists; Tate Christenson - 7 points, 3 assists; Gage Staples - 13 points, 5 rebounds; Jack Van Kempen - 11 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal; Blake Koloski - 5 points, 1 assist