Defending state champ Osseo boys hold off Maple Grove

by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS

Osseo used a big first half and a balanced team effort to pick up a 74-68 win in front of a packed house at Maple Grove Jan. 4. The game was the night cap of a girls’/boys’ basketball doubleheader between the two district rivals.

Maple Grove’s Grant Kaufman (left) goes in for a layup with Osseo’s Rakeem Felder defending. (Photos courtesy of Rich Moll)

Maple Grove’s Grant Kaufman (left) goes in for a layup with Osseo’s Rakeem Felder defending. (Photos courtesy of Rich Moll)

“It was a great atmosphere for a local high school game,” Osseo coach Tim Theisen said. “It’s always great that the community comes out and supports the boys and girls basketball teams. This is a community that is really striving in basketball and it’s been that way for the past several years.”
The Crimson were on a five-game winning streak entering the game and were fresh off of winning the Bethel Holiday Tournament. But the defending state champs Orioles jumped to a 10-1 lead and dominated the first half. Junior center Ian Theisen sparked Osseo with 10 quick points and senior guard Bridge Tusler powered his way to the buckets as Osseo built a 41-26 first half lead.

MG’s Brian Fotso (41) comes up with a blocked shot in the first half on a shot taken by Osseo’s Harrison Lucas (35).

MG’s Brian Fotso (41) comes up with a blocked shot in the first half on a shot taken by Osseo’s Harrison Lucas (35).

Tim said it was crucial that his team got off to a fast start on the Crimson’s home court.
“We started off pretty hot and we executed our offense exactly the way we wanted it and got off to the 10-1 lead,” he said. “It’s a lead that we needed because Maple Grove came storming back in the second half.”
The Crimson clawed back in the second half when they found their offensive game. Brycen Wojta, Jake Wieneke and company started to hit their shots and Maple Grove climbed within striking distance. But the Orioles, led by Tusler, never relinquished the lead. Tusler not only ran the floor game effectively, but also used his physical strength to go inside repeatedly.
“Bridge is a strong, physical guard and he took advantage of what may be Maple Grove’s one weakness — the lack of their strength of guards,” Tim said. “I thought Bridge controlled the tempo, was able to take it to the rim and get some easy points inside. Bridge stepped up and did what Bridge was expected to do.”

Osseo’s Malik Wilson (52) shoots with MG’s Erik Olson defending.

Osseo’s Malik Wilson (52) shoots with MG’s Erik Olson defending.

Tusler led Osseo with 19 points and Ian finished with 13 and junior guard Wheeler Baker added 10. The Crimson knew those three were going to get their points but they didn’t expect Osseo to get two double-double performances from senior forwards Rakeem Felder (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Malik Wilson (16 points and 11 boards.)
“Our team is starting to become a team,” Tim said. “We have three solid basketball players in Bridge, Ian and Wheeler but for us to be successful we need other players to step up and that’s what we have been getting in the last few games. Against Maple Grove, both Rakeem and Malik had a double-double and Malik came off the bench to provide us a spark. It was truly a team effort and that’s what we needed against Maple Grove. Fortunately for us I felt our bench outplayed theirs and I believe that was the difference.”
Maple Grove also had good scoring balance. Wojta had 17 points, followed by Wieneke with 15, Erik Olson with 11 and Grant Kaufman with 10 and Matt Lindgren 9. Olson led MG with 11 rebounds and Wojta had 9 assists.
Osseo, 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the conference, next visits Centennial Thursday, Jan. 10.
The Crimson, 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the league, next hosts Elk River Thursday, Jan. 10.

Contact Bob San at sunpressnews@ecm-inc.com

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