OSAGE | The whole basis of sports is that nobody wants to lose. Of course. Wins are great, losses hurt. But sometimes, when a team suffers a setback, it could end up being a blessing. Such may have been the case Tuesday.
The Osage (18-1) girls team took down previously undefeated West Hancock (20-1) on Tuesday, beating the Eagles by nine points in the Top of Iowa Conference crossover game.
Coming off their own first loss of the season, which came last Saturday against Caledonia, the Green Devils avoided any kind of loss hangover, and instead beat the conference’s West Division Champion, earning bragging rights and an unofficial conference championship.
“We knew that our last two games of the year were probably going to be our toughest to games all season,” coach Chad Erickson said. “We talked about, even if we get beat, we’re going to learn something through it, because we’re finally competing against somebody really, really good. We knew it was going to be the same deal tonight.”
The game was close early. At halftime, West Hancock held a slim 26-24 lead, but in the second half, Osage closed the gap. When Amanda Chizek fouled out in the fourth quarter, it took away the Eagles' biggest threat on the boards. The Green Devils also showed up on offense in the second half, as they outscored the Eagles 38-27. Senior Rylie Olson led the Green Devils in scoring, with 24 points, and 13 rebounds.
“We knew coming into tonight that it was going to be physical,” Olson said. “We knew there was going to be contact, and we just had to play through that. If we can beat them, we can hang with anyone.”
In addition to helping the Green Devils address their weaknesses, the loss also helped them realize their strengths. Against the physically intimidating Eagles, Osage made sure that they kept an eye on West Hancock sophomore Rachel Leerar, and tried to double-team her as much as possible.
“We focused a lot of defense,” Olson said. “We know we’re good when we move the ball and are patient on offense. Defensively, keying on main players and knowing where they’re at all times, is going to help us down the road.”
In a highly competitive conference like the Top of Iowa, every win is precious. The postseason begins this weekend, and a win like this one was a big deal to Osage, especially after experiencing a loss for the first time.
“(Saturday) We played well, but not well enough,” Olson said. “We had to come into this with a different mindset, and we had to let Saturday go, and play in the present, right now. I think it was good for us to have to come out here and play hard off a loss, because we’ve never had to do that before. We’re 18-1. It was good for us to come into this game with a loss.”
Rylie Olson and Danielle Johnson combined for 31 points during the Green Devil's Saturday, Feb. 9 victory against Hampton-Dumont. Olson, who shot 8-of-12 from the floor, also had 11 rebounds, two steals and a block.
The final score was Osage 55, Hampton-Dumont 40.
Johnson had eight rebounds and three steals. Ellie Bobinet added 11 points off the bench, shooting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
The Green Devils will host Forest City on Wednesday.