The Ogilvie Lions girls basketball team made an impressive run at the Section 5A championship, after an equally impressive regular season. With returning talent and community support, the team is well positioned for success in seasons to come.
“What they’ve accomplished hasn’t hit the girls yet,” said head coach Jonathan Nelson. “It’s been 19 years since Ogilvie won a subsection championship and made it to the finals, and 20 years since they actually made it to the State Tournament. These girls weren’t even born yet.”
“It was an incredibly fun ride. I think it’ll be a couple of days yet until they realize what they accomplished. One of the parents came up to me after Friday’s game and said, you know what you’ve done here? You’ve raised the bar pretty doggone high.”
Ogilvie finished the regular season with a 14-10 record, second place in Section 5A East and third in the Great River Conference. They defeated Hinckley-Finlayson, Barnum and Onamia in tournament play and advanced to the Section Championship, where they lost 67-25 to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on Friday, March 6.
“Being able to compete against some of the better teams in the conference has been a real highlight this year,” said Nelson. “Beating a very good East Central team at home on Feb. 13 was memorable. And sweeping Braham on Dec. 16 and Feb. 20 – that hasn’t happened in a long time. Playing our best basketball at the end of the season – that was tremendous.”
“We’re still a very young team, and you could really tell by the way we played sometimes. Our team is mostly made up of sophomores and our starting point guard, Grace Heins, is an eighth grader. We had four or five girls score between eight and 12 points a game. We’re not going to be the underdogs for several more years.”
Last year the Lions finished at 12-14, fifth in the conference and seventh in the subsection. They beat Isle in the first round of postseason playoffs, but later fell to Swanville.
Nelson said the Lions’ seniors were instrumental in the team’s success. “Annika Berg’s exuberance and personality, and everything she’s brought to the table, have really helped change our culture,” he said. “Maddie Chidester is very talented and has an incredible impact on our team. She averaged about 11 points a game this season.”
“Twin sisters Cori and Kelsi Olson are a coach’s dream. They came to every practice and event. Cori tore her ACL midway through the season against Onamia, and I think it was ironic that she got her subsection championship medal at the March 4 playoff game against them.”
Nelson said the Lions’ support has been astounding. “The whole community came out in droves. They made for a great atmosphere. And I would be remiss if I didn’t credit assistant coach Pam Nickels. She does everything, and more,” he said.
“Ogilvie’s sports culture is changing, and these girls helped to change it. We’re at an exciting time for Lions girls basketball right now. The community support has been second to none, and it’s been fun for these girls to see.”