OSAGE | Friday’s victory against Rockford was a microcosm of the Green Devils’ season thus far.
Osage’s girls basketball team had its most convincing win of the year, earning a 74-16 blowout, marking new season-highs in points scored and margin of victory. The end result was the same as every other Osage game this season. The Green Devils are 8-0 at the end of their 2018 schedule with 12 regular-season games to go, starting with a road contest against Northwood-Kensett when action resumes Jan. 4.
The most impressive aspect of their blistering start, however, is the success has come without the need to rely on a particular individual to carry the load offensively. Basketball, especially at the high school level, is a sport that oftentimes allows one player to have a massive impact.
One player on a hot shooting streak can single-handedly lift teams out of a hole or carry a team to victory, and though Osage might have a few players capable of doing so, the Green Devils’ cohesiveness and balance is what has made them so good during the first month of the season.
“They just understand, for us to be good, it might be one kid one night, and the next night it might be somebody different,” Osage coach Chad Erickson said. “The cool thing is they’re fine with that. They’re not real worried about individual stats as long as everybody plays well and we win. The balance makes it tough to guard. You can’t really take one kid away.”
That balance is evidenced in the Green Devils’ statistics this season. Through eight games, three players are averaging at least 10 points per game. And their top scorer, Rylie Olson, scores only three points per game more than their fifth-leading scorer, Ellie Bobinet. Olson averages 11, Danielle Johnson averages 10.6, Sidney Brandau averages 10.3, Mia Knudsen averages 9.3 and Bobinet averages eight.
Mia Knudsen scored 12 points Friday, all in the first half. The remaining starters combined to score 41 points, with each chipping in at least eight.
The Green Devils also exercise that stability on defense, an area Erickson’s squad has excelled in 2018. Rockford scored only one point in the first half Friday, and six of Osage’s first eight opponents have been held to 34 points or fewer.
Erickson said he and his team have already talked about complacency and the need to avoid getting comfortable after such an impressive stretch. Luckily for the Green Devils, they’ve experienced hot starts in the past couple of years. 2017’s team won its first 23 games of the season, and Olson was part of a team in 20015-16 that won its first eight before losing three of its first four January games.
“They know January’s tough,” Erickson said. “ … They get that it’s not gonna be easy. They wanna get better and they have, so far.”
The Green Devils' remarkable season continued with another win against West Fork on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
The final score was Osage 50, West Fork 34.
Sydney Brandau shot six-of-11 from the floor, scoring 12 points. She added four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.
Melanie Bye had 10 points, and Danielle Johnson, as well as Ellie Bobinet, had eight apiece. Johnson also had a team-high six steals. Rylie Olson, who finished with six points, grabbed eight rebounds.
The Green Devils (8-0) open 2019 on the road to Northwood-Kensett (2-7) on Friday, Jan. 4.