by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
As expected, Park Center is the No. 1 seed and Osseo the No. 2 seed in this week’s Section 5 boys’ basketball tournament.
The Orioles, the defending section and state champion, open at home Thursday, March 7 against seventh-seeded Irondale. The winner advances to the semifinal at Rogers Tuesday, March 12. The section final is Friday, March 15, at Rogers at 7 p.m.
Champlin Park earned the third seed, Maple Grove fourth, Robbinsdale Cooper fifth, Centennial sixth, Irondale seventh and Coon Rapids eighth.
Osseo split with Park Center during the regular season but Osseo coach Tim Theisen said the section is wide open with several teams very capable of winning it. Champlin Park and Maple Grove both played Osseo and Park Center tough during the regular season and Cooper won the North Suburban Conference with a 15-0 record and has one of the most highly recruited players in the state in Rashad Vaughn.
“Our sections is going to be very, very dangerous,” Theisen said. “Anyone from one to five could go on to win the section and do very well at state. Park Center is playing very well, Champlin Park has very good athletes, Maple Grove has some of the best talents in the state. You add Cooper and this is one of the deepest sections in the state.”
The Orioles saw their 15-game winning streak end in a 47-46 loss at Elk River Feb. 27. The Elks successfully slowed down the game against the explosive Orioles, who struggled with turnovers and missed free throws. Osseo led most of the way but the Elks kept the score close and hit a three-point shot with 2 seconds left to win. It was the first time Elk River has beaten Osseo in seven seasons. The loss also derailed Osseo’s hope of winning the conference title.
But Osseo bounced back with an 85-32 home win over Coon Rapids on Seniors Night March 1. Seniors Bridge Tusler, Malik Wilson, Harrison
Lucas, Ty Vann, Zach Bahl and Rakeem Felder were honored before the game. Wilson led all scorers with 18 points, Tusler scored 16 points to reach the 1000-point milestone and juniors Ian Theisen and Wheeler Baker had 16 and 15 points, respectively.
The Orioles enter the section with a 23-3 record, an impressive mark considering they opened the season with only two returning players in Theisen and Tusler. But the new varsity players developed during the season and Osseo ended the season winning 16 of its final 17 games. Coach Theisen credits the entire roster for the successful regular season.
“Our three superstars Ian Theisen, Bridge Tusler and Wheeler Baker have been doing what they are supposed to do–lead the team in scoring and providing leadership,” coach Theisen said. “But I have to give a lot of credits to our role players. Matt Miedtke, Malik Wilson and Rakeem Felder have been doing an outstanding job of providing supporting inside scoring for us. Reserve guards Harrison Lucas and Ty Vann continue to provide intensity and scoring off the bench. And reserve center Zach Bahl provides energy off the bench in the absence of Ian Theisen when foul troubles occur. I truly feel that the success of our team is not just because of the Big Three, but because of the role players and what they bring off the bench.”
The Orioles hope to emerge from this tough field to defend their section championship and follow that with the defense of their state title.
Contact Bob San at [email protected]