There were marquee match-ups all day at Alexandria Area High School for the Breakdown Winter Lakes Classic, and a battle between two of the top teams in Class AA certainly fit that description.
The Perham boys basketball team came into the game undefeated, ranked sixth in the Minnesota Basketball News polls and looking to get head coach Dave Cresap career win No. 600. Ninth-ranked Osakis (18-2) wanted to delay that celebration for at least one more night against its former Section 8AA rivals, but the Yellowjackets (18-0) did get Cresap that milestone victory by a 65-58 final.
“This was very, very good for us,” Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. “I know some of the guys were down cause it’s Perham. They thought this was our best chance to maybe get them for a while, but this was a positive.”
Hoelscher felt that way because of the playoff-like atmosphere the Silverstreaks played in against a good team. Fans from both towns filled much of the AAHS gymnasium for a game that was touted as a big one for both teams.
Things didn’t start well for Osakis as the Yellowjackets jumped out to a 19-9 lead. The Silverstreaks missed a few good looks around the basket during that stretch that they would like to have back.
“It could be a little nerves with the crowd out there and everybody talking about this game and how big it is,” Hoelscher said. “You’ll kind of get that stuff, so it’s good that we had a game like this before the playoffs to get that out of the way. We’ve also had some games where we miss a few easy ones, and against good teams you can’t do that.”
Osakis sophomore guard Bauer Klimek came off the bench for Osakis after the slow start and played anything but nervous. Klimek shot his team back into the game with five first-half triples. All 17 of his points came before halftime as he got Osakis to within 32-27 at the break.
“When I’m on the court, I just try to act like I’ve been there before,” Klimek said. “I play a lot of AAU, and I’ve traveled around. You play in a lot of big games there, so it’s really about that too.”
Klimek has shown multiple times this season an ability to get hot in a hurry. Saturday was one of those nights, and it allowed the Silverstreaks to head into the second half with some confidence.
“When he’s hitting shots, we love it,” Hoelscher said. “We just got to ride it out. After he made quite a few in a row, he took a shot that wasn’t a great shot and said, ‘My bad.’ It’s like, ‘No, go ahead.’ He was really our only scoring option in the first half. If he’s not hitting, we’re probably not in this game at all because they could blow it up to 20 in no time...It’s nice to have a sophomore who’s not afraid of the moment.”
Osakis trailed just 47-46 with 6:15 remaining after Carter Grove hit one of the team’s nine threes overall. Each time the Silverstreaks rallied, Perham had an answer.
Much of that centered around big games from 6-foot, 5-inch junior center Finn Diggins and junior guard Elijah Morris. Diggins had a game-high 22 points, while Morris had 17 and Charlie Rasmussen chipped in 13.
“I thought when they needed a basket, they had (Morris) setting a back screen for (Diggins),” Hoelscher said. “If you over help, then (Morris) is going to be wide open for a three. If you don’t help, then you got Finn who was going to be open down low. That’s kind of what it was where they went to their two best players in the screen action, and we just didn’t defend it well.”
Hoelscher felt the game was reffed much like a playoff game where more physical play tends to be allowed. Osakis went to the line just three times on the night.
“We just told guys, it’s going to be physical and you need to find a way to get through that,” Hoelscher said. “That includes if you’re cutting and guys are holding you, you got to set better screens. You need to take a little more contact, or take an elbow on a rebound.”
Senior guard Daniel Savageau joined Klimek in leading the Silverstreaks with 17 points. Kobie Lara added nine, while both Lara and Luke Staloch had a team-best six rebounds.
It wasn’t the win Osakis was looking for in front of a big crowd, but it was the type of atmosphere the Silverstreaks will see again if they are going to make a deep run in the Section 6AA playoffs.
“The mood right now is we’re still pretty positive,” Klimek said. “They’re a really good Class AA team....it was super fun with all the fans here and all the energy. This is what it’s going to be like in the playoffs once we get all the way up there to the finals. That’s where we want to be, and this was a good game. Really, really fun.”
OSAKIS 27 31 - 58
PERHAM 32 33 - 65
OSAKIS TOTALS - FG - 23-54; Three-point FG - 9-24; FT - 3-3; Assists - 11; Rebounds - 21; Steals - 5; Turnovers - 9
OSAKIS - Luke Imdieke - 2 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds; Kobie Lara - 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals; Carter Grove - 5 points, 1 assist; Luke Staloch - 6 points, 3 assists, 6 rebounds; Bauer Klimek - 17 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Carter Rost - 2 points, 1 rebound; Daniel Savageau - 17 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
PERHAM SCORING - Charlie Rasmussen - 13; Finn Diggins - 22; Landon Stevens - 8; Gunnar Anderson - 5; Elijah Morris - 17