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Osseo stuns Hopkins

By David La Vaque, Star Tribune, 03/22/12, 11:01PM CDT


Orioles top three-time defending Class 4A champions in three-OT thriller to advance to title game

Osseo's Ian Theisen waited a few extra moments for teammate DJ Hebert's postgame leap into his arms at midcourt.

No matter. Time was finally on the Orioles' side. Their 87-86 victory in three overtimes ended Hopkins' bid for a fourth consecutive Class 4A boys' basketball state title in Thursday's semifinal game at Target Center.

Osseo, state title winners in 2001 and runners-up in 2003 and 2009, advances to Saturday's championship game.

"I had to look at the scoreboard a couple times and it still hasn't sunk in all the way," Hebert said.

Seated on the court near Theisen and Hebert was Hopkins guard Siyani Chambers. His three-pointer at the buzzer was not enough to alter the outcome but it was indicative of the lack of quit in both teams.

"That's what March is about; that's what the state tournament is about," said Chambers, who led all scorers with 31 points. "Nobody gave up. It was heart vs. heart. It's just that down the stretch we couldn't do the things to get us the victory this time."

The game became a temp agency for heroes. Osseo's Bridgeport Tusler scored the final points of regulation on a driving layup to tie the game 64-64.

Neither team scored in the first overtime. Chambers missed two free throws and a late jump shot.

The second overtime was the dramatic opposite. Osseo led by nine points. Hopkins' Jacob Wright helped chisel away the lead with a trio of three pointers, none more dramatic than the last one.

Wright banked a three pointer off the backboard as time expired, simultaneously creating bedlam and disbelief.

"I thought it was in the bag when we had the nine-point lead there," Osseo coach Tim Theisen said. "They made shots I was not aware that they were going to make. I started to believe in that mystique of Hopkins. But our kids fought back and found a way to win."

Coach Theisen preached purpose, poise and pride to his team all season. They used all three to prevail. Cal Bloom scored first for Osseo, which never trailed in the third overtime.

"We wanted to be that team to knock off Hopkins," coach Theisen said. "We knew we had the depth, the size and the athletes."

The loss stunned the Royals, whose seniors grew up in a program where teams went to state and returned home with the championship trophy.

"They haven't known anything but winning the whole thing," Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. said. "With Eastview out we thought we had an opportunity. We're kind of [short]handed right now, and they still stuck it out."

Hopkins leading scorer and rebounder Zach Stahl sat on the bench in street clothes during the game. Sources with knowledge of the situation told the Star Tribune last week that Stahl violated a Minnesota State High School League rule.

The Royals pressured Osseo into committing 25 turnovers. The Orioles countered inside, outscoring Hopkins 62-34 in the paint. Ian Theisen, a 6-9 sophomore center unrelated to the coach, led his team with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

He made one of his two free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining to provide a four-point cushion. Moments later he provided a soft landing for Hebert.

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