SEM forward Kellen Eggleston looks to pass the ball during the first quarter Thursday.
SEM forward Kellen Eggleston looks to pass the ball during the first quarter Thursday.

The fourth-seeded Osceola Bulldogs (23-3) battled the fifth-seeded Sumner-Eddyville-Miller Mustangs (20-5) in the first round of the Class D-2 state tournament. In a back-and-forth game, the Mustangs secured the 62-52 win, thanks partly to some surprising leaders. 

Both teams got off to hot starts in the first quarter as Osceola’s top two leading scorers, senior guard Isaiah Zelasney and junior forward Kale Gustafson, scored five each. The Mustangs had an unlikely star in forward Jace Rosentreader. The junior, who only averaged 6.1 PPG on the year, scored nine off the bench in the first quarter, and the Mustangs had a 15-12 lead after one. 

The second quarter saw a battle between both teams’ leading scorers as Zelasney and Gustafson scored the bulk of the Bulldogs’ points, and senior forward Kellen Eggleston stepped up for the Mustangs.  

Gustafson’s 6-5 height advantage proved vital as he secured numerous offensive rebounds to keep many Osceola possessions alive. Both teams were going at it, and the Mustangs held a narrow 25-20 advantage at the half. 

Gustafson was unstoppable to start the second half, scoring four straight points. He then took the lead after a putback on a missed free throw. A three-pointer by senior guard Kolton Neujahr gave the Bulldogs a five-point lead, 32-27.  

Just as it looked like Osceola would run away with it, the Mustangs came rumbling back, with senior guard Creyton Line cutting the Bulldog lead to one with an and-one off a steal. Senior center Jayson Guthard blocked Gustafson on the other end, and Rosentreader scored, giving the Mustangs a 37-36 lead at the end of the third quarter. 

The Mustangs had all the momentum at the start of the fourth, with Rosentreader continuing to add to his career day, scoring his 20th point at the line. Osceola did not throw the towel as they battled back with a big three by Zelasney, cutting the Mustang lead to two. However, big free throw shooting by Line helped ice the game, and Sumner-Eddyville-Miller completed the 5-4 upset with a 62-54 win. 

Rosentreader finished with 24 points off the bench for the Mustangs, while Zelasney had 24 points, and Gustafson had 17 points for the Bulldogs. The win marks the Mustangs’ first state tournament win since 1976. 

The Mustangs will now play first-seeded Wynot in the semi-finals as they look to extend their first state tournament appearance since 2007. 

Anthony Rubek is a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a sports media and journalism double major at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. He is from La Vista, NE and one day hopes to cover sports as a writer. In his free time, he enjoys running and watching sports.