It’s never been easy for the Oskaloosa Girls’ Basketball team. The Indians play in one of the toughest conferences in the state: the Little Hawkeye. That alone makes each and every game a war, and makes it extremely tough for a young team that is trying to develop skills and depth to compete at the top.
The Little Hawkeye is among the best all-round conferences that Iowa has to offer in high schools sports, as multiple teams routinely make trips to state tournaments all year long. That is especially true this winter season on the hardwood, as the boys’ side has 7 of their 8 teams who have a legitimate chance to make a deep run toward state, and the girls’ side has five teams ranked in various classes, four of which are in the top 8 in their respective class.
Oskaloosa has seen three of those ranked teams so far this year, and it hasn’t been an easy go for the Indians. A great first half added confidence against Pella Christian (#8 in 2A), but Osky faultered down the stretch to lose 63-44. A 69-29 loss to Grinnell (#5 in 4A) on the road and a 76-20 loss to Dallas Center-Grimes (#13 in 4A) have shown the Indians have a lot of work to do if they plan on winning multiple conference games. Pella and Indianola, whom Osky has not seen as of yet, are ranked #1 in Class 4A and 5A respectively.
But a tough battle against Newton in which Osky came from behind from 13 points down twice showed the kind of fight that Indian supporters have learned to expect from these girls. The 48-46 home loss still stung, but it shows that the Indians will have their opportunities to win games this season. The other three games Osky has played this year were wins at home against Centerville (47-34) and Knoxville (46-36) and a loss to Fairfield at home (63-22).
Norwalk is the final team in the Little Hawkeye, and Osky has collected conference wins against the Warriors the last couple of seasons. Two contests against Norwalk remain on the slate. A road matchup with Newton should also be competitive, as should non-conference matchups against North Mahaska, Washington, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, and Albia.
Senior Alexis Westercamp has been the best player in an Osky uniform the last four years, and is now taking up even more responsibility as the Indians continue to grow. Young players like Marleigh Denburger and Lindsey Holmberg are learning how to compete from veterans like Leah Van Maanen, Katelyn Smith, and Shalandra Shilling.
While a deep postseason run at this point seems unlikely for the 2-5 crew, continued growth under Head Coach Steve Kaisand is the chief goal behind the scenes. Stealing games will be the mantra against ranked clubs and building a backbone for the future will be what the Indian girls will look to do as the season treads on.
The girls will get their first shot at getting a win after the holiday break against Norwalk on the road on Friday, January 6th. You can view the game in high-definition on our live video stream on radiokmzn.com and on MCG with the coverage starting at 6 PM. Tip-off is at 6:15. The boys’ game will follow. You can also hear all the action over the airwaves on 99.5 FM/740 AM KMZN.