by Bob San
SUN PRESS Newspapers
Going into the Section 5 semifinal game against Centennial March 12, Osseo girls’ basketball coach John Rieser expected a close game.
“We felt like we matched up well with them,” Rieser said. “Our previous two losses were very close games, so we liked our chances.”
The Orioles did make it a close game in the first half but they got off to a poor start in the second half and Centennial exploded on offense and turned the game into a 59-41 rout.
Osseo got off to a slow start, trailing 22-11, but the Orioles went on an 11-3 run to close the deficit to 25-22 late in the half. Centennial scored four quick points on Osseo turnovers but Azaria Reed scored at the buzzer to pull Osseo to within 29-24 at halftime.
“We felt good about the halftime score of 29 – 24,” Rieser said. “At halftime we talked about picking up or defensive intensity.”
But the Orioles instead came out flat to start the second half and that proved fatal. The Cougars scored the first seven points of the half to open up a 36-24 lead and the Orioles could not rally. Once in the lead and relaxed, the talented Cougars could not miss and opened up a huge lead.
“We didn’t execute in the second half, which really hurt us,” Rieser said. “We only shot 27 percent for the game, with lots of shots in the paint, but we just couldn’t consistently put the ball in the basket. I give a lot of credit to Centennial and their seniors — those kids worked hard the entire game. I don’t think they wanted Osseo to end their season for the third year in a row.”
Despite the loss, the Osseo coaching staff was proud of the effort of the young Orioles.
“We are young and our kids competed hard the entire game,” Rieser said. “Arianna Jones was a demon on the defensive end — she is so active and works so hard, but often is overshadowed because she doesn’t score a lot of points. It is amazing how many rebounds she gets — all because she has a “don’t quit” attitude. Lemia Ntor-ue had another solid game. She has a huge upside, coming off her injury she really showed what she is capable of for next year.”
Senior Madi Malone ended her high school career with a strong effort, leading the Orioles with 15 points and hit three threes.
“Madi’s infectious, positive attitude will be tough to replace next year,” Rieser said. “Ayo Porte played hard on both ends of the floor, but wasn’t able to finish the way she has all year. Her leadership on and off the court will be missed next year as well.”
Rieser is excited about the core group of players returning next year.
“Seniors to be Courtney Calkins, Hayley Swanson and Catera Etheridge played solid minutes for us this year,” he said. “Juniors to be Arianna Jones, Kiara Russell and Lemia Ntor-ue will be expected to continue their strong play for us to be competitive again next year. We also have sophomore to be Azaria Reed returning having started all season as a freshman. The kids are looking forward to getting into the gym and continuing to improve their skills this summer. We hope to continue to compete at a high level, and improve upon this year’s results.”
Contact Bob San at [email protected]