The Osakis boys’ basketball team had an opportunity awaiting them with a 1-5 Bertha-Hewitt team coming to town on Thursday night.
The Silverstreaks were trying to get first-year head coach Matt Hoelscher the first win of his career and end a five-game losing streak in the process. Instead, the same problems that have hurt this team during that stretch showed up again as the Bears pulled away in the second half on their way to a 57-45 win.
“I think we got a little tentative,” Hoelscher said of watching a halftime lead disappear. “That’s kind of been our thing this year. When things are close, we’re kind of in a game, we just find a way to turn the ball over, not get back defensively, just doing uncharacteristic things right now that are kind of hurting us.”
The prospects of a win looked good through 18 minutes as Osakis took a 25-22 lead into the break. Senior Doug Zimmel and junior Drew Fearing both hit two threes during that stretch as Osakis’ offense started to click after a slow start. Zimmel already had 10 points by the half. The problem is, he finished with 12.
Zimmel spent much of the second half on the bench after picking up his fourth foul early. The Silverstreaks had a hard time finding any scoring without one of their seniors leaders on the court. Bertha-Hewitt went on a 13-2 run after halftime that made it a 35-27 game with 9:55 left. The Bears never trailed again after that.
“We get in a lull when Doug’s out of the game,” Hoelscher said. “Just about every game this year, he’s had some foul issues where he has to come out. When he’s off the floor, we’re not as good of a basketball team. Obviously, he’s one of our go-to guys, and we look for him to be a scorer. When he’s not there, our offense does take a little stagnant lull.”
Fellow senior Kilar Zimmel tried to get his team back into it with five straight points late in the second half. The Bears were able to put the game away, though, behind the strong play of senior Michael Grewe and sophomore Preston Riewer. Grewe finished with a game-high 19 points and Riewer added 13, 11 of which came in the second half.
“Riewer is tough,” Hoelscher said. “He doesn’t lose the basketball very much. He attacks the rim. He sees the floor very well.”
Osakis finished with three players in double figures on a night when the Silverstreaks shot 40 percent from the field (17-of-42). Kilar Zimmel finished with 11, while Fearing added 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals. That wasn’t enough as Osakis was left searching to find a way to put an entire 36 minutes together.
“We’re in dire need of a win,” Hoelscher said. “It’s never easy going [0-6]. We have quotes every day and one of them recently was, ‘It’s easy to steer the ship when the sea is calm.’ When everything is going great, you’re winning, you can have turnovers here and there, but when you’re losing, turning the ball over as much as we are, we’ve got to find a way to get out of it.”
Things won’t get any easier for Osakis after the Christmas break. The Silverstreaks will play a 5-2 Battle Lake team on December 29 and a 4-0 Upsala team on January 3. They also welcome in the defending Class A state champions in Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on January 14.
“For the most part, they’re pretty positive,” Hoelscher said. “We just got to build off that. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot more games to go and we have to forget about this one and move on.”