The Minnewaska girls basketball head coach, Brett Thorfinnson, said that if a team gives up only 47 points in a game, it's a game they usually win.
That wasn't the case on Friday night when the Osakis Silverstreaks (3-5) beat the Lakers (5-5) 47-43.
"It feels excellent," Osakis head coach Pat Kalpin said. "They worked hard, and we knew it was going to be rough after the holiday break. Every team has that issue. One of the goals tonight was to get to the free-throw line. We got there 26 times because we were more aggressive."
Osakis' free-throw shooting was the difference-maker. The Silverstreaks held a three-point lead with just over two minutes to play before Minnewaska guard Maddie Thorfinnson scored to cut the deficit to one.
Alexis Piekarski committed a flagrant foul on Alexis Johanson on the following possession. Johanson sunk two free-throws to regain a three-point lead before Mara VanNyhuis buried two more.
"There's a little bit more pressure to hit free throws when the game is close at the end," Johanson said. "When you're close like that, they're important, and they have to go in."
With 18 seconds remaining, Minnewaska's Hannah Hoffman nailed a deep three-pointer to keep the pressure on Osakis, but Johanson thrived in the clutch again. She hit two free throws in the final 11 seconds to ice the game.
"The biggest thing we will take away from this game is the way we won down the stretch," Kalpin said. "We made our free throws and did the little things right. We did enough to win the game against a pretty good basketball team. For us to get this win right after Christmas is a big confidence booster."
Osakis never trailed in 36 minutes of play. Johanson hit two three-pointers on back-to-back possessions midway through the first half to open up an eight-point lead.
Minnewaska's defense kept the game close. Even though they struggled to hit contested shots, the Lakers forced enough turnovers to keep them in the contest.
"Our defense was solid," coach Thorfinnson said. "We had them running a little bit. We didn't make the shots we needed to make, and they did. But our defense was good, and the girls played hard."
The Lakers went on a run before the half ended but trailed 23-20. Coming out of the break, Osakis took its largest lead of the game at 34-25 behind its three-point shooting.
"At the end of the first half, we talked about player positioning and what they can do to open themselves up for three-point shots," Kalpin said. "We had better spacing, and we found a couple of them early in the second half. It was different kids hitting them too. It was a really positive outcome for us."
The lead wouldn't last as Osakis went on its longest scoring drought of the game. The Lakers held the Silverstreaks scoreless for over seven minutes. In that stretch, Michele Stai scored seven points for Minnewaska to cut the lead to two.
Minnewaska may have struggled to convert shots, but they weren't short on chances. Their ability to grab offensive rebounds gave them several second-chance looks at the rim.
"If we keep working hard like that, shots will start to fall," coach Thorfinnson said. "We keep telling them that if we work harder than the team we play against, we will win more than we lose. It just wasn't the case for us tonight."
The loss for Minnewaska snapped a four-game win streak. The Lakers will try and put their forgettable shooting performance behind them as they host Benson on Tuesday.
"Osakis played good defense," coach Thorfinnson said. "We didn't get a lot of open looks. There was some stuff at the hoop early that we couldn't get to go in that got us down early. I'm not sure how many times we got to the free-throw line, but we didn't make enough of those. We do those things differently, and it's probably a different outcome tonight."
Osakis' win snapped a two-game skid following on 0-2 Eden-Valley-Watkins tournament.
"We want to keep riding this high and keep working hard," Johanson said. "This win was really important for us. We needed this to get some confidence for the second half of the season. Everybody is working towards the playoffs."
MINNEWASKA 20 23 - 43
OSAKIS 23 21 - 47
OSAKIS SCORING- Alexa Lien 7, Mara VanNyhuis 14, Alexis Johanson 15, Grace Oeltjen 8, Madisen Johanson 3;
MINNEWASKA SCORING- Makena Panitzke 1, Maddie Thorfinnson 10, Michele Stai 7, Addy Randt 1, Hannah Hoffman 5, Alexis Peikarski 13, Emma Thorfinnson 7