Expectations remain high as Osseo basketball girls welcome new coach

New coach to lead Osseo girls’ basketball

By Bob San

John Rieser began his tenure as the new Osseo girls’ basketball coach last Friday when the Orioles defeated Coon Rapids 55-31.

Rieser is very familiar with the team because he has been an assistant coach at Osseo for many years and coached these Orioles in lower grades.

New Osseo head girls’ basketball coach John Rieser talks strategies with his Orioles during the opening win at Coon Rapids. (Photos by Bob San)

New Osseo head girls’ basketball coach John Rieser talks strategies with his Orioles during the opening win at Coon Rapids. (Photos by Bob San)

In many ways, the 2012-13 Orioles are similar to the one last year when Osseo won the conference and section and went all the way to the state championship game before losing to Hopkins. The Orioles are small, but very athletics and fast. The biggest difference is this team lost top players in Mikayla Bailey and Olivia Antilla.

Rieser does have two Div. I seniors as he welcomes back returning starters in senior guard Janay Morton and senior forward Phillis Webb. Junior forward Ayo Porte and senior forward Belinda Barfknecht also saw varsity action last winter.

Phillis Webb of the Orioles pulls down a rebound to start a fastbreak against the Cardinals.

Phillis Webb of the Orioles pulls down a rebound to start a fastbreak against the Cardinals.

“Our strengths are our athleticism and leadership from Janay Morton and Phillis Webb,” Rieser said. “We are very athletic, but not very tall, so rebounding will be a challenge all year. We are also inexperienced, as only three returning players have played varsity minutes.”

Players Rieser expects to contribute include junior guard Maddie Malone, senior forwards Brianna Jones, senior post Stephanie Holmes, and senior guard Annie Schoeben.

“We also have some young players that we will be watching closely throughout the season as they may challenge for varsity minutes,” Rieser said. “For us to be competitive in the tough NWSC we will need significant contributions from these players. None have played any significant minutes at the varsity level.”

The Orioles looked impressive in routing Coon Rapids, a team that beat them twice during the conference season last winter. After a slow start, the Orioles used a 28-14 run to close the first half and broke the game open. Morton, Webb, Barfknecht, Porte and Schoeben were the starting five but Osseo also got good minutes from Malone, Jones, Catera Etheridge, Holmes and Courtney Calkins. The Orioles’ used their speed and quickness to dismantle the Cardinals.

But Osseo ran into a team as quick and athletic — defending 3A champion DeLaSalle — in the Hopkins Tournament Saturday and lost 63-52.

Rieser feels despite the losses of top players to graduation his team will still be a contender.

“You don’t replace players like Mikayla Bailey or Olivia Antilla but we expect to compete in every game and be a factor in the conference throughout the year,” he said. “There are no weaknesses in the conference this year. Maple Grove, and Centennial are returning a significant number of starters from last year’s section semi-final and final teams. This is not an easy conference. You must be prepared every night, all season long.”

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