The resumes for the Osakis and Pine City boys basketball teams looked fairly similar heading into their match-up in the Section 6AA quarterfinals on Saturday in St. Cloud.
Both teams entered with 25-2 records with the help of talented offenses. Pine City leads the 18-team section with 75.9 points-per game, and Osakis is the second highest scoring team at 70 points a night.
What was considered a less challenging strength of schedule left the Dragons as a seven seed in the section as Osakis got the two seed. Pine City proved in an 81-73 win over the Silverstreaks that their now 26-2 record is not a fluke.
“They’re a senior-led team, a lot like we are, and they have guys who have been there before,” Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. “They’re a seven seed because their conference isn’t great, but this is basketball. When you shoot 40-some threes a game and you make 12 to 15 of them, that’s a huge thing. We just didn’t do enough to get it done. They just beat us.”
The Dragons made 10 threes on Saturday, with senior guard Koleman Lind having three of those. He was the catalyst every time Pine City needed a big play. Lind also got to the basket on his way to a game-high 30 points.
“He got open and made shots,” Osakis senior guard Daniel Savageau said. “He’s a heck of a player, and when a person gets hot, it’s hard to guard them. That’s what he did. He got hot.”
Osakis had an 11-0 run early in the game that helped it erase a 7-2 deficit, but Lind had 17 first-half points to give the Dragons a 38-34 advantage at the break. They never trailed in the second half as 6-foot, 6-inch senior forward Seth Logan added 20 points himself.
When Lind and Logan weren’t hurting the Silverstreaks, the Dragons had other guys halt Osakis runs in key moments. Konnor Juscazk had nine points, and Kameron Jusczack added eight. Kameron’s three with almost 5:30 left pushed his team’s lead back to double digits right after a Savageau three had given Osakis a bit of life.
“They just hit shots, and then they got second-chance opportunities when they needed them,” Hoelscher said. “They’re a good three-point shooting team. As soon as we made a run, they had a role player hit a three, a guy who we want shooting, but they hit their shots tonight.”
The Silverstreaks withstood that and still had a chance in the closing minutes. Senior guard Carter Grove had a team-high 19 points, including a three that made it 68-64 with almost three minutes left. Grove added another three that made it 73-70, but that’s as close as Osakis got as Logan made three straight free throws and got free for a layup that sealed the win for Pine City.
Savageau was right behind Grove atop the scoring column for Osakis with 17, but the Dragons made things tough on him all night. Pine City face-guarded Savageau when he didn’t have the ball and sent two guys at him almost every time he touched it. Five different players had double figures for the Silverstreaks with so much attention being paid to Savageau.
“They’ve been in the spotlight forever. They know how to do that,” Savageau said of his teammates stepping up around him. “I knew they were going to make those shots. We have that bond and connection where I just know they’re going to hit those shots.”
Luke Imdieke and Kobie Lara each had 11 points, and Luke Staloch added 13. Imdieke, Lara, Staloch, Savageau and Grove are the starting five for this year’s team and the nucleus of an eight-member senior class that helped Osakis to 73 wins over the last three seasons.
“They set the bar for everyone who comes after them,” Hoelscher said. “We’ve had some good senior groups in the past, but we’ve never had a senior-dominated team where we start five seniors. We got one coming off the bench (Carter Rost) and then Tyson Lien who didn’t play much but is just a great kid. They’re going to be tough to replace. We couldn’t ask for better role models to lead our program.”
Savageau will go down as Osakis’ second leading scorer of all time. He finished his career with 2,020 points, but he doesn’t want to be remembered as just a potent scorer.
“I hope it’s more than just basketball,” Savageau said. “I hope people look at that No. 23 and say he was a heck of a person and then he was a good basketball player.”
Savageau was proud of everything this whole group accomplished together, and the bonds they built with each other and this coaching staff.
A quarterfinal loss in the tournament isn’t how the Silverstreaks wanted a 25-3 season to end, but it was just one piece of a memorable run together for this group.
“The journey we had from day one of practice, and for these guys it goes way back to elementary school,” Hoelscher said. “All the games they played, the tournaments they’ve won, the teams they’ve beat. A lot of time we think about that last game, the what-ifs, but we’re going to try to focus on the time with the guys and the memories that they shared. It hurts, but the pain will go away. What they’ve gone through together as a group will last forever.”
OSAKIS 34 39 - 73
PINE CITY 38 43 - 81
OSAKIS TOTALS - FG - 22-48; Three-point FG - 10-29; FT - 19-26; Assists - 12; Rebounds - 19; Steals - 8; Turnovers - 6
OSAKIS - Luke Imdieke - 11 points, 5 assists, 1 steal; Kobie Lara - 11 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds, 2 steals; Carter Grove - 19 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Luke Staloch - 13 points, 1 assist, 6 rebounds, 2 steals; Carter Rost - 2 points, 2 rebounds; Daniel Savageau - 17 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals; Brady Mages - 1 rebound
PINE CITY SCORING - Caleb Fromm - 7; Dylan Petersen - 2; Koleman Lind - 30; Tanner Wicktor - 5; Konnor Jusczak - 9; Kameron Jusczak - 8; Seth Logan - 20