MANLY | Osage senior Gabby Schwarting can make a three from well-behind the arc, and she made four of them Friday.
But she won’t talk about her strategy, it’s all about confidence.
“I don’t know, I just got to think positive and say it’s going in.” Schwarting said.
While soft-spoken, she changes on the court, shouting out commands and sprinting with her fist in the air after making a 3-pointer.
She adds two from the line to emerge as the Green Devils’ top scorer with 14 points in their 50-30 win over Central Springs on Friday night.
But Schwarting is one of many targets on the Osage offense.
Senior Rylie Olson is the team’s top scorer so far this season with 144 points, adding 10 points against the Panthers.
Olson’s aggression on defense translates to a top offensive game, there were two instances where a steal turned into a breakaway layup. As the ball bounced behind the Panthers’ offense, Olson tapped it with a few dribbles before taking her time to sneak in the basket.
“The coaches were yelling at me to be more aggressive on defense,” Olson said. “So I’ve been getting after it up there, it helps everyone get steals and makes the layups easier.”
But the ball handling mastermind is sophomore Mia Knudsen, also racking up 10 points. Small and quick, Knudsen’s able to weave her way around defenders, finding the open shot. Ball-handling and passing are key to making the Osage offense stronger.
“Both those girls have improved a ton from a year ago,” head coach Chad Erickson said. “Rylie’s always been a great defensive player and this year she’s scoring the ball a lot better. Mia takes great care of the basketball and distributes when she’s open, kind of like Gabby, she’s a good shooter as well.”
The Green Devils held a 10-point lead at half, limiting the Panthers’ top player, Kaylee Parks, to just four points in the first half.
But the defense would grow even stronger in the second half as Osage held Central Springs to just six points in the third before closing out the win in the fourth scoring 16 to the Panthers’ 10, including efforts from players off the bench.
“They really tried to slow the game down, they took a lot of time,” Erickson said. “We tried to get the pace picked up and we really couldn’t. So, we showed pretty good patience on offense, a lot better the second half as far as the shots we took the first half.”
Unable to come back from the deficit, Central Springs banked most of its points off free throws. Parks would finish with 12 points, half of her points-per-game average of 24. It was all part of the game plan, extending the zone defense to get in the faces of their opponent.
“We knew that we had to stop Kaylee Parks,” Olson said. “But I think just getting after everyone and being in their face it makes them freak out and makes them turn the ball over more.”
The Green Devils (No. 5, Class 3A) remain undefeated in conference, but the pressure seemingly isn’t there. Olson feels more relaxed than last year.
“It feels good,” Olson said. “Last year we choked during a couple of conference games, it’s reassuring that we haven’t.”