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'We can be in the mix': Osage girls basketball aims for another conference title

The standards for the Osage girls basketball program are set pretty high.

The Green Devils haven't had a losing season since the winter of 2010-11, and have won 167 games in the past eight years – including a trip to the state tournament in 2016 and 2020.

But this season's team knows there will be some challenges to overcome.

"I don't know if they feel pressure, but they're not used to losing," Osage head coach Chad Erickson said. "They've won in everything they're a part of. So the standard is pretty high and they know it's pretty high."

The Green Devils lost three seniors starters who contributed heavily to a team that went 21-3 overall and earned a share of the Top of Iowa East conference championship.

According to Erickson, the overall numbers of participants out for basketball at Osage is also down compared to years past.

"I also think they're realistic and understand that we're not the same that we probably have been the last three or four years," Erickson said. "So it might look a little bit different, but I don't think their standards really change. They expect to win and compete and play well."

There are plenty of reasons for optimism, however. The Green Devils do return three post players who played key roles on a team that came up one game short of another trip to Wells Fargo Arena.

GBBall St. Ansgar vs. Osage 16

Osage center Kaebre Sullivan attempts a layup against St. Ansgar at home last season.

Senior forward Kaebre Sullivan and junior forward Samantha Brandau were both starters last season. Sullivan averaged 6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game, while Brandau averaged 4.7 points and 5.5 rebounds a season ago.

The other returner is junior Claudia Aschenbrenner, who actually was the third leading scorer (6.2 ppg) for the Green Devils off the bench a season ago.

Erickson says that trio will be relied on heavily this winter.

"It's going to look a little different for us this year and the kids realize that," Erickson said. "Our focus is definitely playing through our big girls to start the year until our younger kids and inexperienced kids get their feet wet."

GBBall St. Ansgar vs. Osage 4

Osage sophomore Samantha Brandau gets aggressive on the rebound against St. Ansgar in Osage last season.

The Green Devils will rely on a few newcomers to pick up the slack at the guard position this season. Junior Brooklyn Halbach and sophomores Rylie Tabbert and Taylor Klobassa are a few names that Erickson said will play.

"Getting these new kids accustomed to varsity will be a big key for us," Erickson said.

If the Green Devils can successfully mesh returners with newcomers, Erickson says the team can compete for another Top of Iowa East title.

"I, and the girls, would like to think that if we play well and keep improving that we can be in the mix at the end of the year," Erickson said.

The Green Devils start their season against Newman Catholic at 6:15 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Newman Catholic High School.

Gunnar Davis covers sports. Reach him via email at or by phone 641-421-0598.


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