Only a sophomore, Osseo’s Ian Theisen kept a veteran’s poise as the biggest moment in his basketball career unfolded.
With time winding down in a tie game to decide the Class 4A state championship on Saturday at the Target Center, Theisen found himself alone on the baseline. He knew what was next.
“My guy left me so I was like, ‘It’s going to come to me so don’t mess up, don’t drop it,’” Theisen said. “I got that rhythm and [hit] nothing but net. I like that 15 footer.”
Theisen got the ball. His shot swished through the net as time expired, giving Osseo a 49-47 victory over Lakeville North. The Orioles won their first state title since 2001. They were runners-up in 2003 and 2009.
The shot capped a perfect yet unusual night for Theisen. The 6-foot-9 center scored 32 points in the Orioles’ previous two state tournament games, most within an arm’s length of the basket. He was central to his team's dramatic, three-overtime victory over three-time defending champion Hopkins in Thursday's semifinal.
On Saturday, Theisen showed off his range, making both of his three pointers in the first half and draining his third and final shot to win the game.
“He doesn’t get enough credit for his perimeter game but he is our second-best three point shooter,” said Osseo coach Tim Theisen, who is not related to Ian. “When the ball ends up in his hands on the perimeter we’re not going to say, ‘No!’”
Coach Theisen said some of his youngster’s shots were by necessity rather than design. Lakeville North’s physical and skilled front line pushed Theisen away from the lane.
“Sometimes the inside game won’t be there so you’ve got to develop an outside shot,” Ian Theisen said.
Both teams exhibited strong rebounding, inside scoring and contributions from reserves throughout the tournament. And they carried themselves with the confidence one would expect from teams that had not lost since January.
Osseo guards Bridgeport Tusler and DJ Hebert kept their team alive in the second half with strong individual efforts on both ends of the floor. They tipped away or stole passes and converted clutch layups.
The Panthers’ Grant Erickson tied the game late in dramatic fashion with four consecutive points. He drained a three pointer with two minutes and 11 seconds to play. Then he made one of his two free throws with one minute remaining to tie the game 47-47.
With about 30 seconds remaining, Osseo called timeout and designed a play to put the ball in Hebert’s hands. But as the play broke down, Thiesen broke free.
“I’ve got just as much faith in him as I do in myself,” Hebert said. “Great shot.”