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Osseo star relives big game he never left

By Star Tribune, 03/27/12, 3:37PM CDT


DJ Hebert

Osseo senior guard DJ Hebert watched the Class 4A boys' basketball championship game on Sunday, reliving the Orioles' last-second victory the night before and making sense of what had been a blur.

Then it was off to Perkins restaurant for breakfast, where he was asked for his autograph.

"We're local heroes right now," Hebert said. "It's real sweet right now."

Hebert led the Orioles in scoring in two of their three victories. But his most impressive statistic was playing all 120 minutes of tournament action. Hebert never left the floor despite shouldering tremendous responsibility in all three games.

He guarded one of the state's top players in Duluth East's Johnny Woodard, helping hold him to a 3-for-14 shooting performance in the quarterfinals while Hebert scored a game-high 18 points.

He was the only Osseo player to log all 48 minutes in the three-overtime semifinal clash with No. 1 Hopkins. And he led the Orioles with 13 points against Lakeville North in the title game, which sophomore Ian Theisen clinched with a buzzer-beating jump shot.

Hebert transferred from Robbinsdale Cooper as a sophomore. His top sport is football and he has signed to play at Northern Iowa this fall.

Hebert spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about basking in the afterglow of a state championship.

Q After the team left the Target Center, what way did you all celebrate?

A We just tried to stay together. We all wanted to be with everybody so we all ended up at someone's house and kicked it for awhile. Our friends were there and we were celebrities for that night. It felt great. I'm still coming down from the high of that win.

Q You said after the game you were speechless. Have you found the words to express what it felt like to win in such a dramatic way?

A The game was so long it didn't seem like it was going to end like it did. The teams were so evenly matched that I expected the game to press on even longer. For it to end like that -- we literally took it from them. It came down to who had the ball last. Ian hit the biggest shot of his life and it happened so fast. It was hard to believe at that point that one shot made us state champions.

Q Did you learn anything watching the game on television?

A You could not tell how physical the game was on TV. And I didn't look half as tired as I really was. I was dead. I remember getting a steal and even though I was at about zero energy, I sprinted full speed like it wasn't anything.

Q You've had a lot asked of you in football and basketball over the past four years. So what's it like to go out a champion?

A It's definitely great. I couldn't ask for a better ending. Being kind of thrown into the fire at a young age set the tone for me. It made me comfortable with stepping up and being a leader. I feel like you can play a better game when you're not trying to play for yourself. I'm always trying to step up so the team can win. I love winning more than anything. That's the main reason I do what I do. It was tough coming up and always losing to people no matter how hard you worked. That's what makes it so much sweeter now.

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