by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Ian Theisen put Osseo on his back and led the Orioles to a hard fought 74-69 win over visiting Maple Grove Feb. 15.
Osseo got off to a quick start and led by as many as 13 points in the first half. But the Crimson cut the deficit to 37-31 at halftime and carried the momentum into the second half. Maple Grove actually took a lead midway in the second half and things looked precarious for the Orioles when junior guard and second leading scorer Wheeler Baker fouled out 9 minutes into the second stanza.
Once Baker fouled out, Osseo made an emphasis to feed the ball inside to Theisen and the 6-9 junior center responded in a huge way. During the decisive Osseo run in the second half, Theisen scored 16 straight points to help Osseo hold off the stubborn Crimson.
“Ian Theisen was the difference maker in that game by far,” Osseo coach Tim Theisen said. “Our team looked for him and he didn’t disappoint. Maple Grove sent a number of different players at Ian but to no avail. He kept Maple Grove off balance the entire second half. Maple Grove tried to double team him a couple times but he made some quick moves to get to the rim and he made some 15-foot shots as well before the double team could get there.”
Theisen shot a sizzling 81 percent from the field as he sank 13 of 16 field goals, scored 29 points and added 10 rebounds. Bridge Tusler (6 of 10 shots) and Baker (3 of 5) both made 60 percent of their two-point shots and finished with 16 and 11 points, respectively. Osseo shot 60 percent of its two-point field goals. The Orioles also got key contributions from Matt Miedtke, who hit a big three in the second half to put Osseo up to stay, Rakeem Felder, Malik Wilson, Harrison Lucas, Tyrin Vann and Zach Bahl.
Theisen has been a top recruit and has received several Division I offers, but coach Theisen said earlier this season at he has to improve his inside scoring ability to make himself even more attractive to Division I coaches. Well, on this night, Theisen certainly showcased his inside scoring skills.
“Ian truly performed like the Division I player that he is,” coach Theisen said. “He had back-to-the-basket moves that he hadn’t shown for a while and he went through them over and over again. I truly saw Ian taking a major step to becoming the dominant player he needs to become for Osseo. Once Wheeler went out, Ian shouldered the burden of the load and put on a workman’s like performance and carried our team to victory.”
Osseo needed all of Theisen’s brilliance because the Crimson played an inspired game and also shot well, making a respectable 54 percent of their two-point field goals. They scored 69 points against an Osseo defense that leads the state in fewest points allowed per game at 52. Jake Wieneke had a great shooting night, hitting 6 of 8 two-point shots and 2 of 3 from beyond the three-point line to finish with 19 points. Brycen Wojta followed with 18 points and added to his state-leading assist total with 9 helpers. Erik Olson, who made 7 of 12 shots, added 15 points, and Matt Lindgren scored 10.
Wojta felt his team easily could have won the game.
“Overall, I believe it was just the bounce of the ball was going their way on that particular day,” Wojta said. “Theisen’s overall size did cause us some problems, but I believe it was many little things that made us come up short in that game.”
The Orioles, who extended their winning streak to 13 games with the victory, swept the season series from the Crimson. The Orioles are 16-1 in the conference and remain in the first-place tie with Park Center.
Maple Grove and Osseo may very well meet again in the section tournament. And no doubt it will be another barnburner.
“Maple Grove has the best senior led trio in the conference with Jake Wieneke, Brycen Wojta and Erik Olson,” coach Theisen said. “They are a talented team. We know every time we play them we are going to get a good match.”
Wojta and the Crimson would love to get another shot at the third-ranked Orioles.
“We have proved we can be competitive with those top teams and every time our teams meet it’s a tough, hard-nosed game to the end,” Wojta said. “Anything can happen when a team comes together and leaves everything they have on the court every game.”
Contact Bob San at [email protected]