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Elk River's Porter Morrell puts the shakes on Osseo's Bridgeport Tusler. (Star Tribune photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii)
Two of the Northwest Suburban Conference's best-defending teams combined for an offensive shootout Tuesday night in Osseo.
Coming into the game Osseo's opponents averaged only 52 points, Elk River's 53, but instead of a low-scoring affair the two teams totaled 158 points with the Orioles scoring their season high in an 86-72 victory. The victory completed an impressive run (9-1) through the first half of conference play but ended in a less impressive way.
Outside of Ian Theisen surpassing 1,000 points in his 28-point effort, the Orioles didn't find much good in the performance. Coach Tim Theisen -- no relation to Ian -- stood dumbfounded at the scorer's table when he realized his team had 25 fouls in the final seconds of the game. Elk River had 21 of its own. Officials handed out 33 fouls in the second half.
A few of the Orioles players described the foul-dominated matchup as "something other than a basketball game," but Osseo (12-2) responded well by making 21 of 26 free throws.
"I think [Elk River] made us work, but we played a bad basketball game," Wheeler Baker said after contributing 21 points, five assists and four steals before fouling out. "Teams that we know are tough in conference that we can hold off [in a bad game] ... it's a great thing."
Elk River's Max Person hit a three-pointer seconds into the game, but after Ian Theisen scored his first points to give his team an 11-10 lead, the Elks trailed the rest of the way. Elk River got within two scores three times in the second half, but Osseo's 17-point lead held up.
Previously ranked Elk River (10-5) has lost five of its past eight games, while No. 5 Osseo has won five in a row.
"We just gotta find a way to execute for the whole game," said Elk River's Porter Morrell, who scored a game-high 31 points. "They would make a run and we couldn't get them. A couple possessions make a difference in the game."
Ian Theisen's big moment came with 2:40 left in the first half. Wheeler took advantage of the Elks' lack of size by delivering a high pass to his big man under the basket for an easy layup. The junior became the 10th Osseo player to hit the milestone.
He only needs about 400 more points to become the program's career leading scorer.