MASON CITY — Pick any sport at Osage and you’ll find many of the same girls leading the way.
Even fresh off a trip to the state volleyball tournament a few weeks ago, the Green Devils' girls basketball team worked back quickly to get ready for Tuesday night’s season opener at Newman. And again, it was many of those girls leading the way in the fifth-ranked (Class 3A) Green Devils’ 60-49 win over Newman Catholic.
“I think it helps us create bonds with our teams,” junior Rylie Olson said of the all-around athletes at Osage. “All of us play the same sports so we all have to hang out all the time, but I think it also helps keeps us in shape which is good.”
And, with those athletes, the Green Devils can roll through their bench with little to no falloff, which coach Chad Erickson said will be a strong suit for them this season.
Osage spread minutes evenly among nine players Tuesday night.
“We’d go to our bench, and if we have kids in our starting 5 that aren’t playing well, we’re pretty deep and we can go to the bench and get a spark there if we need it,” Erickson said. “We’re pretty comfortable playing nine to 10 kids and not dropping off a ton when we go to the bench.”
The Green Devils’ volleyball setter turned guard in basketball Olson was the spark plug for an Osage offense which got hot in the second quarter.
With a 15-10 lead after one quarter, Osage got hot and started to look like the team it had when in won a Top of Iowa Conference East Division title last season. The Green Devils opened the quarter on an 11-2 run and outscored the Knights 23-8 in the second to take a 38-18 lead into halftime.
“I think it helped us realize that we can still get back into it. The rust was coming off and we were like “Yep, let’s do it,’” Olson said. “It was good for us that we finally got rolling.”
With the Green Devils’ top scorers struggling from the field in the first 16 minutes, Olson went to work. She had 13 of her team-high 15 points in the first half.
“She had a ton of energy tonight and that’s how she’s practiced the last few weeks,” Erickson said. “She’s just all over and she makes so much happen — usually good — and is just so active on both ends of the floor.”
Madi Johnson matched Olson with 15 points of her own and Gabby Schwarting also finished in double figures with 13.
After the rough second quarter, Newman rebounded a bit in the second half to show little glimpses of the kind of team they can be this season. The Knights opened the third on an 11-2 run of their own, and outscored the Green Devils 20-11 in the final quarter.
The Knights’ Peyton Olson led all scorers with 16 points, Hailey Worman added eight and Paige Walker finished with seven.
“It’s encouraging, the effort. They kept playing hard right to the end,” Newman coach Mike Schutt said. “If we keep doing that, we’re going to have some good things happen for us.”