SYLVAN GROVE — Whether it be injury or illness, the Osborne High School boys’ basketball team hasn’t had its full roster on the floor all together much recently.
Thursday’s Class 1A Division I semifinal also was the first time the Bulldogs had played an actual game in 13 days.
So Bulldog head coach Jamie Wolters was expecting a little rust out of his No. 4 ranked club, which entered the field with a 17-1 record.
It nearly cost his club a potential return trip to state as the Bulldogs had to rally from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to pick up a 60-47 victory against fourth-seeded Downs-Lakeside.
It was the fourth win for Osborne (18-1) against Lakeside this season as the two compete in the Northern Plains League.
“You know what each other’s going to do,” said Wolters, whose team now plays Little River on Saturday for the right to make it to Hays’ Gross Memorial Coliseum next week for the 1ADI finale. “(Lakeside) played a little more free and loose.”
Wolters said his club has played most of the year with a target on its back in the league.
“They had nothing to lose — not favored, not picked to win,” the Osborne coach said. “We had a little pressure on us there and didn’t do a good job of attacking their zone.”
Lakeside, though, fell down 9-2 to start the game, but led by senior Peyton Johnson fired back with a vengeance. By the end of the first quarter, the Knights mounted a 10-9 lead and kept the foot on the gas to lead 25-20 by halftime.
In the first win of the season for the Bulldogs in the matchup, Osborne rolled to a double-digit win. The next two, when Johnson did play for the Knights, Lakeside kept it close.
Thursday, he took it to a different level, often slashing the Osborne defense on his way to a game-high 21 points.
“He’s such a good player,” Wolters said. “They put a lot of pressure on us.”
After the halftime lead, Lakeside stayed on the court, only taking a minute and a half for a break before spending most of halftime shooting.
The strategy paid off as the Knights extended the lead to 12 by the 6:35 mark.
Within a matter of minutes, though, Osborne was back on track. The Bulldogs jumped into full-court pressure, hit back-to-back 3s and was within six by the 3:38 mark.
“We grinded it out, picked up the intensity in the second half,” Wolters said. “We were able to pick up the pressure, press them full court, and that was probably the biggest difference.”
Sophomore guard Steele Wolters, who hit the Bulldogs’ two third-quarter 3s, ended the game with 18 points to lead the way as Osborne put four in double digits. Junior Darnell Holloway had 12 and juniors Kade Miller and Jordan Wherry had 11 each.
The Bulldogs will take on a Little River team that disposed of second-seeded Mankato-Rock Hills, 66-50 in the first game Thursday.
The Redskins were led by a freshman, Jayden Garrison, who scored 24 points, making five 3s.