The Osakis boys’ basketball team needed to prove to itself that it could win the kind of game it ended up winning last night.
The Silverstreaks have seen a lot of games get away from them in the second half this season and almost saw that same outcome against Brandon-Evansville on Tuesday. Osakis took a 37-26 lead after going on a 12-1 run out of the half.
Slowly but surely, the Chargers started to chip away. Blake Satterlie and Patrick Schaffer hit a couple big threes to get Brandon-Evansville back in it. Freshman Skyler Quinn then completed the comeback by scoring six straight points to give his team a 45-44 lead with 20 seconds left.
Osakis hasn’t been in too many late-game situations like this during the course of the season, but on this night, they made a series of plays that made the difference between a win and a loss in a 48-45 game.
“It’s nice for our guys to play in games like this because they learn how to play,” Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher said. “They know that every possession counts. A little turnover when we’re up eight with four minutes to play is still big. A missed free throw, missed offensive rebound; guys are learning. They‘re learning and they’re playing together as a team.”
Drew Fearing started that stretch by being aggressive off the dribble instead of settling for a jump shot with his team down by one. He drove the lane and was fouled with around three seconds left. Fearing calmly drained the first free throw of a one-and-one situation before missing the second.
The Chargers got the rebound and called a timeout. At worst, they thought they were heading to overtime. Brandon-Evansville designed a play to hit John Haseman on a deep pass as he broke to the other end of the court. The ball never got there, though.
Hoelscher brought in 6’3″ senior John Piekarski off the bench to guard the inbounds pass. He hadn’t been used much that night, but he ended up making one of the biggest plays by tipping the pass.
That allowed Hunter Scherr to play the role of hero. The junior guard gathered the ball between the three-point line and mid-court. He took a couple quick dribbles before shooting a running three that twirled around the rim and hit off the backboard before falling through after the buzzer sounded.
“Before, when I was on the bench, I was thinking the whole time that it was going to come down to that,” Scherr said of the last-second shot. “It flew by pretty fast. I was hoping it was dropping, but when it dropped, it was probably one of the greatest moments ever.”
Scherr’s teammates tackled him near the three-point line to celebrate a win they hope can do wonders for their confidence. This is a team that hasn’t had a lot to cheer about this season after winning one of its first 17 games. The Silverstreaks have now won two of their last three, but it’s how they won that had their head coach excited after the game.
“It all starts with a chain of events,” Hoelscher said. “With Drew making that first big free throw. He misses the first one, it’s a whole different ballgame. He makes that, we get John Piekarski, sub him in, and he gets the tip. That gives Hunter a chance and it’s awesome. Those are things that our guys need to get this program going.”
The Silverstreaks looked a lot better than the first time I saw them in a loss to Bertha-Hewitt on December 20. It started on defense for them last night, where they held Haseman to just 14 points and eight rebounds. Haseman is one of the better posts players in the area, and the Silverstreaks used a box-and-one to keep him from getting the ball in great scoring positions most of the night.
“With him, we knew we couldn’t stop him,” Hoelscher said. “We just hoped that he wasn’t hitting shots…we just said that someone else has to beat us. We know Haseman is going to get his points, some points, but we want him to take 20-30 shots. We did a good job of keeping it away from him. Kilar [Zimmel] and Drew did a heck of a job dogging him all night.”
Those are signs that this team is making progress as it reaches the final month of the season. The Silverstreaks might not have been able to bounce back from losing a late lead earlier this year. On Tuesday, they proved to themselves that they can win these kinds of games by fighting until the final buzzer.
“Usually in our games, we’ll play good one half and we’re down the next,” Scherr said. “This game, we played good throughout the whole game. It’s taken a little while, but we’re getting way better as we go on.”