Pirate ship will sail to state

Prologue
To Rogers for the 5AAAA championship.  A great setup with a full house and both bands for the 3rd meeting between Osseo and Park Center.  The parking setup an absolute nightmare and the slowest ever way to exit.  Not good, but well worth it for this game.  No concessions but Mr. Basketball makes up for that with his early trip for popcorn.  We get John Lithgow and 2 other bad refs for the game but overall they exceeded my expectations despite having their moments.

Game Time
A pretty even game early on.  Quinton Hooker with a coast to coast bucket and then a 3 for an 8-6 lead.  He picks up his 2nd foul on a charge at 11:17 and stays on Osseo scorer Wheeler Baker but doesn't pick up the 3rd.  Baker does get 5 in a row as part of a 9-1 Osseo run.  Orioles lead 17-12 at the 6:34 mark and Bo Powell takes a timeout to settle his guys down.  Hooker with a strong 2 and then he spins and hangs in the lane for 2 more.  That's part of Park Center's 9-1 run for a 21-18 lead at the 3:23 mark.  11-4 Osseo the rest of the half as Bridge Tusler scores 8 in a row.  A pair of drives and finishes with each hand and 4-4 at the charity stripe.  29-25 Osseo at the half in a pace that favors their style.

The 1st couple of minutes are much faster and hectic.  After trading 3s and 2s, a Tusler bucket puts the Orioles up .36-30 with 15 to play.  Park Center right back with 6 in a row to tie as Hooker knocks down a J and Devin Buckley heats up with the last 4.  Ian Theisen using his size advantage inside for a couple of post buckets.  That helps Osseo to a 42-38 lead with 11 minutes left.  Then Hooker pressured by Tusler forces a 3 and it falls.  Hooker also falls badly on the play and he'll sit as Park Center takes a timeout with 9:46 left.  But he's right back to the table 10 seconds later as Park Center trails 43-42.  Osseo gets the next 4 as Wheeler Baker takes a turnover for a dunk.  47-42 Osseo with 9:10 left.

Treyton Daniels counters with a drive and foul.  The free throw is no good but Isaiah McKay puts its back.  Tusler on the post countered by Hooker going to the line.  Hooker makes the first and misses the second.  However, Osseo again commits the greatest crime in the game (giving up an offensive rebound of a free throw) and its kicked out to McKay who knocks down an open 3.  That puts Park Center back on top 52-49 with 7:45 left.  Tusler on an inbounds and Theisen free throws after posting.  Hooker misses 2 freebies and Tusler counters.  55-52 Orioles with 5:50 left.

McKay with another clutch 3 to put the Pirates back on top. Theisen on the offensive glass to knot the score back up.  Hooker and Buckley with buckets in the lane.  Osseo turns it over and Hooker with a drive to the rack for 2.  63-58 Park Center with 3 minutes left.  An Osseo turnover but Park Center charges on the break, but Osseo can't score.  Another Park Center bucket with 2:12 left and the lead is 7.  Osseo gets a putback for a 3 point play to cut the lead to 4.  Then Hooker loses possession in the front court but dives on it and gets the timeout with 1:43 left.  Great play there to save possession.  hate timeouts like that early in games but late in a close game this case is a great move.  The ball gets loose again and Buckley grabs it.  His circus event in the lane somehow manages to go in with 1:15 left and that's the omen for the night.  67-61 Park Center with 1:15 left. 

Theisen with a putback, Buckley 1 of 2, Theisen another offensive board and makes 1 of 2 to keep the game at 4 with 41.6 left.  Hooker makes 1 and Tusler goes to the basket for 2.  Little bit tight in the collar as the lead is down to 3.  But no matter.  Its only fitting that Hooker steps up in the last 28 seconds and makes 4-4 to slam the door.  Park Center wins 73-71 to advance to state.

Post Game
The Big 3 for Osseo do their part.  Bridge Tusler leads with 21 points.  Ian Theisen with a double double of 16 and 14 on my sheet.  Wheeler Baker adds 19.   Matt Miedtke and Malik Wilson combine for the other 15.  The Orioles finish their season 25-4 and have 3 players who started tonight coming back. 

Park Center advances to state and their star Quinton Hooker steps up with another big game when needed.  He finishes with 27 points and made his last 5 free throws in the last 35 seconds to seal the win.  Park Center's wings, Devin Buckley and Isaiah McKay, combined for 24 of their 25 in the second half.  Ultimately they were the team that wanted it more as they were after it on the floor and on the offensive glass.  They did those little things that end up looming large.  I think Park Center earns the 2 seed at state despite the head-head win in December over top seed Apple Valley.  The extra 2 losses at Osseo and at Minnetonka are too much to overcome.

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