In the past two matchups between Park Center and Osseo, the Orioles took single-point victories over their north metro rival: 62-61 in the Class 4A, Section 5 semifinals on March 14, 2017, which ended the Pirates season, and a 60-59 overtime finish on Jan. 4.
Memories of those close and disappointing scrapes with Osseo vexed Park Center as members of the team got in pushing and shoving matches during practice leading up to Friday’s regular-season rematch.
“Our coach told us to use that anger,” junior Emmanuel Tamba said. “Instead of taking it out on each other, take it to the game and use that fire.”
Park Center held a lead the entire first half until Osseo tipped in a buzzer-beating shot. Seeing another lead slip from their grasps, the Pirates channeled their frustrations in the second half.
“It was something special,” Tamba said following a 15-point performance and a 72-58 win over Osseo at Park Center Senior High School. “[The losses] really fueled us to play harder. It started in practice this week when we really started going at each other.”
After two heartbreaking losses, some Pirate players joined a raucous mob of fans on the floor for another round of pushing and shoving. This time, it was out of excitement to Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration.”
“They’ve been working hard in practice. We have a talented team and they go to battle with each other every day,” Park Center coach James Ware said. “They try to keep their head and compete everyday. In basketball you gotta make sure you celebrate and have a little fun.”
Ranked seventh in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, Park Center (13-3, 8-1) used a 25-2 run in the second half to snap the No. 6-4A Orioles’ 11-game winning streak.
Separated by just five miles, there are few teams as familiar with each other.
Tamba recalled going to Osseo-Park Center games as a middle schooler and watching 2013 Mr. Basketball recipient Quinton Hooker play. Hooker led the Pirates to their first state tournament since 1997 by beating the defending Northwest Suburban Conference champion Orioles in the section title game. Park Center took second at state that year and hasn’t returned.
“They had the same energy as this [game] and I always wanted to be a part of this [rivalry]” Tamba said.
After not playing in last year’s section semifinal, Tamba and fellow junior Tommy Chatman seized the spotlight and proved vital in the Pirates’ second-half run.
Chatman and Khari Broadway each scored four points, while Tamba chipped in a basket on a 12-point run midway through the final half.
Osseo (12-3, 8-1) coach Tim Theisen signaled for a timeout to try to deflate Park Center. Zach Theisen hit one of his five three-pointers out of the timeout. The Pirates went on 13-2 run from there and held a commanding lead in the final five minutes.
Chatman, who finished with 14 points, served as the post when Park Center ran a smaller lineup to keep pace with Theisen and Emmette Page. Several times the speedy senior duo took lanes to the net, but Chatman was there to apply pressure.
“I’ve known these [Osseo] kids since I was 8 or 9 years old,” Chatman said. “We know everybody's game and you got to bring something different with every game.”
Avoiding an Orioles' sweep, Park Center remains in contention for the Northwest Suburban West Division crown and has regained leverage in section seeding decisions where a potential rubber match could be played.
“This is what 4A basketball is about in the state of Minnesota,” Ware said through a hoarse voice after shouting play calls through the boisterous gym.
Entering the conference stretch of the season, the Pirates can build from this runaway victory to maintain their competitive nature.
“When we put it together and put our minds to it we can do anything,” Chatman said.
Click photos to view the entire gallery from the game.
Emmanuel Tamba's 15 points led a group of four double-digit scorers in a 72-58 Park Center victory that snapped Osseo’s 11-game winning streak Friday night at Park Center High School.
Ranked seventh in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, the Pirates (13-3, 8-1) used a 25-5 run in the second half to avenge a Jan. 3 60-59 overtime loss to the No. 6-4A Orioles.
Tommy Chatman followed Tamba with 14 points, while Khari Broadway posted all 12 of his points in the second half.
Osseo (12-3, 8-1) seniors Zach Theisen and Emmette Page scored 21 and 15 points, respectively.
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