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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/22/2012 10:35:09 PM

By Luke Sleeper

Not many teams in Minnesota are more familiar with Hopkins’ dominance in boys basketball over the past few years than Osseo. The Orioles have suffered three state tournament defeats to the Royals since 2003, including the 2009 state championship game.

Osseo finally had its day Thursday with a thrilling three-overtime, 87-86 victory over the three-time defending state champions in the Class 4A state semifinals at Target Center.

The Orioles kept fighting by looking to a mantra that coach Tim Theisen has been using all season long.

“Our motto this season has been ‘The Three P’s: Purpose, Pride and Poise,’ ” he said. “I have to hand it to my guys for not giving up. We needed a lot of poise tonight.”

It was an up-and-down battle, with Osseo on the losing end for much of regulation; the Orioles finally took the lead with 2:35 left in second half. Despite it not being clear on the scoreboard until late into the game, Osseo was outplaying the Royals in a variety of ways.

The Orioles had a definite size advantage, which was made evident by the fact that Osseo scored 62 points in the paint (Hopkins had 32).

A significant 56-31 advantage on the boards, including 18 offensive rebounds, allowed the Orioles numerous scoring chances. Near the end of regulation, all those second chances finally came to fruition as Osseo began consistently finding the bottom of the net.

Osseo’s paint game was spearheaded by 6-foot-9 sophomore Ian Theisen, who scored 21 points and collected 13 rebounds. The Orioles also looked to junior guard Bridge Tusler’s size advantage over Hopkins defenders to create offense; oftentimes Tusler would post up despite being the team’s primary ball handler.

The strategy paid off as the junior scored 13 points and had 13 rebounds. Senior guard D.J. Hebert added 16 points.

As you would expect from a three-time defending champion, Hopkins did not go down easy. Senior guard Siyani Chambers led the way for the Royals, scoring 31 points on 10-for-19 shooting. The defensive quickness of Chambers as well as guards Demitrius Martin and Kamali Chambers gave Osseo trouble all night, especially early on. Hopkins forced the Orioles into 25 turnovers, including eight steals in the game.

After losing its lead late in the second half, Hopkins forced overtime. After a scoreless first overtime, Osseo seemed to take control of the game. The Orioles pulled out to a nine-point lead only to have the Royals come storming back behind three three-pointers by sophomore Jacob Wright, including a bank shot at the buzzer to force a third overtime.

Osseo senior forward Cal Bloom took over in the third overtime, scoring seven of his 13 points, including a huge three-point play.

“This was definitely the best game of my life,” Bloom said. “To have it be in the state tournament at the Target Center is unbelievable.”

A last-second three-pointer by Chambers was not enough for Hopkins as the defending champs came up a point short.

Osseo advances to the fourth state championship game in program history, its first since facing Hopkins in 2009. The Orioles’ only state championship came in 2001.


Lakeville North became the first team from Lakeville to advance to a basketball state championship game, defeating Eden Prairie 58-41 in Thursday’s Class 4A semifinals.

After falling behind 27-13, the Panthers made a late first-half push to make it a 27-20 game into halftime. Lakeville continued its pace to open the second half, going on a 12-3 run to take a lead it would never relinquish.

After struggling in his team’s quarterfinal game against Moorhead, Lakeville senior Tyler Flack bounced back with a great performance against the Eagles; Flack scored 16 points and corralled 11 rebounds, capped off by a ferocious one-handed slam dunk near the end of the game. Senior Ryan Saarela added 11 points and eight rebounds and junior point guard Grant Erickson had 10 points and five rebounds.

Eden Prairie looked to be on its way to a second upset in its many nights with its hot start against the Panthers. Eagle seniors Sander Mohn and Abrian Carpenter led a first-half charge that found the Eagles with an early 14-point lead. Mohn led all Eagle scorers with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Lakeville North responded as it has all year long, with a smart, lock-down help defense that held the Eagles to just 14 second-alf points.

Lakeville North will face Osseo in Saturday night’s 4A state title game at Target Center.

--Luke Sleeper is a journalism student at the University of Minnesota


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