BBball GHV vs. Osage 22

Osage's Drew Olson, left, looks for a shot as Garner-Hayfield-Ventura's James Betz defends during a Class 2A substate final Feb. 25.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette

OSAGE | Osage basketball is back, and the boys are hungry for a title.

“The last five to six years we’ve played in the district title game,” head coach Mike Brahn said. “Every year it’s been up and down. In 2006 I believe they had a state tournament team, two years ago we made the state tournament. We’re kind of the school where every so often we’re loaded up to make a run, and right now we’re on the upswing.”

Osage returns three members of the 2015-2016 state-contending team: seniors Lucas Schwamman, Nathan Bushbaum and last year’s conference player of the year, Drew Olson.

But the Green Devils also return other experienced seniors who will take on bigger roles this year, including Dylan Aschenbrenner and Colin Klapperich.

“Collin Klapperich is a guy who’s going to come in for us this year as a senior who hasn’t played a ton, but I think he’s a got a real chance to do some special things for us this year,” Brahn said. “He’s grown a ton, just shot up to 6-4. He’s put a lot of time in the offseason to really work on his game.”

Klapperich spent time in the offseason playing for the Iowa Ambush, a North Iowa AAU team. His team went to eight tournaments, competing in seven championships and winning six of them.

His height isn’t the only thing that changed, though. Klapperich has been working a lot with Olson to improve all aspects of his game.

“Drew’s definitely one of the biggest leaders on the team. I look up to him,” Klapperich said. “We come in just about every night and shoot, we’ll work on ball handling and just getting to the rim — that’s something I need to work on. I’ve been better as a spot-up shooter, but I need to be more aggressive this season.”

The offseason work increases confidence in himself and trust from his teammates.

“He brings some necessary length to compete, if you look at the state tournament team rosters, there are starters who are 6-5, 6-6, 6-3, 6-2, so he brings that height advantage,” Olson said. “And he’s really athletic, so we can put him at a four and have him stretch to the floor for us.”

As for the rest of the team, most will be new faces. The Green Devils return Brett Bobinet, a junior who played as a sophomore last year, but Olson says he likes what the young guys bring to the table.

“We’re a lot younger than we have been in the past,” Olson said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a rebuilding year, but we’ve got new faces to come with us. Me, Nate and Lucas, we were starters and players on that state tournament team and now we’re the only three left from that team. So it’s new faces all around, and hopefully we can build off that and we’ve got some really good talent off that.”

For two years, the Green Devils have faced GHV in the deciding game to go to state. In 2016, they won, but last year, they lost. The matchup could likely happen again, but Brahn notes that the path to state will be even more competitive this year.

“It’s like we’re even right now,” Brahn said. “We’re going to see how this year goes, it’s going to be big Forest City dropping down to 2A, going to be really tough. That’ll be a challenge for both and Garner this year after having them in 3A last year, they return an awful lot of talent too.”

For now, Osage is focused on one thing: making the steady climb to peak at the right time.

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