Osakis boys needed a win like they got over Brandon-Evansville

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 head coach Matt Hoelscher talked things over with junior guard Hunter Scherr before the start of the second half on Tuesday night. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

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.”

Junior guard Hunter Scherr looked for an opening against Brandon-Evansville’s Patrick Schaffer on Tuesday night. Scherr hit the game-winning three as the buzzer sounded to give his team its third win of the season. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

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.”

Osakis boys in “dire need” of a win

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.

Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher (middle) talks to his team during a timeout in the first half on Thursday night. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

“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.”



Former Cardinal Matt Hoelscher gets his first head coaching job in Osakis

Alexandria’s Matt Hoelscher said he wants to be a head coach until he’s retired from teaching some day.

If that’s the case, the former Cardinal three-sport athlete will have a lot of years under his belt when he’s done after accepting his first head coaching position at the age of 31 with the Osakis boys’ basketball team.

Matt Hoelscher

Hoelscher turned down an opportunity to coach the Parkers Prairie boys program a couple years ago because of the commute and his desire to coach in the school he taught in. Ten-year head coach Chris Stroup’s resignation after this past season opened that door for Hoelscher, and it was one he was happy to walk through.

“Extremely excited,” he said of getting this opportunity. “I told the kids the other day, Stroup gave me some of last year’s game film. I was watching Eden Valley-Watkins. That’s our first game of the year, I think it’s at the end of November. I was already watching their film, just looking for tendencies and scouting…I’m just extremely excited.”

Hoelscher is a 2000 graduated of Jefferson High School where he played basketball, football and baseball. He spent a year trying to walk on to the men’s basketball team at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall before transferring to St. Cloud State to play baseball for the Huskies.

Hoelscher will be entering his fifth year teaching U.S. and world history in the Osakis School District this fall. He has had assistant coaching jobs with the Silverstreaks football and baseball teams, while also coaching the Osakis boys and girls 7th-grade basketball teams last winter.

Hoelscher also spent six seasons as an assistant coach for the Melrose boys basketball program under head coach Ryan Dusha. All of his time spent as an assistant was done with the hopes of someday soon getting an opportunity to lead his own program.

“My last couple years in Melrose, Dusha was grooming me to be a head coach someday,” Hoelscher said. “He knew that was my goal. [Osakis activities director] Brad Hoffarth, Chris Stroup, they all knew that was my plan.”

Hoelscher said he wants his teams to play an uptempo style on offense and to pressure teams in the full court on defense. He also knows the team’s ability to do that will have a lot to do with the personnel he has at his disposal.

Hoelscher will be taking over an Osakis roster that returns Doug and Ky Zimmel as the only two players with previous varsity experience. That is a hurdle to overcome in his first season, but he liked the energy his players showed in a recent three-day camp he held in Osakis.

“Game-time situations, no timeouts left, I’m expecting there’s going to be some hiccups,” he said. “But what I’ve seen so far, we’ve scrimmaged a lot of teams this summer, and I know when I have more than those three days, there’s a lot of things I saw on film when we scrimmaged Henning, I know once we work on them, we’re going to get some good looks.”

It’s an Osakis team that is coming off a 7-19 season after winning just two games in 2010-2011. The Silverstreaks had won seven straight Prairie Conference titles before that. That’s exactly where Hoelscher hopes to get them back to in the future.

“First year, I’m not expecting to go to the state tournament and win it,” he said. “Just kind of build off of each year. We want to get back to competing for the conference championship. When Stroup won it all those years in a row. That’s our goal, get up there and try to compete.”