To Maple Grove for another early 5 PM weeknight start of section semifinals. This time section 5AAAA is on display. Jet's pizza not a bad thing plus more Gatorade to wash it down. No bands tonight is a surprise and disappointment. JMOA on duty for the late game. Appalachian State in the building to watch the games along with St. Olaf, Bethel and Hamline just to name a few.
Game 1: Osseo vs Park Center
Osseo not rattled at all early by Park Center's athleticism and half court man pressure. John Bezdicek (Matt didn't play) with an early 3. Mar Mar Hughes and Zach Theisen also drain triples and Osseo jumps out to a 13-3 lead at the 14:22 mark. Frosh post Dain Dainja with 2 inside hoops for Park Center. Losini Kamara adds a 3 and the lead is down to 4. Marice Nelson counters with 2 triples for Osseo taking inside out passes and knocking it down. Bezdicek adds 3 free throws right before the halftime buzzer for a 37-24 Osseo lead at the break.
Osseo would stretch the lead to 15 but no further. Park Center would get to 13 but not get any closer. Finally the Pirates start to cut the margin. Khari Broadway with a putback for 2 free throws and he turns a turnover into a 3 point play. 52-46 Osseo with 7:28 left but they're losing momentum. Theisen with 4 free throws and the lead is back to 58-48 with 4:11 left. Kamara with 1 free throws and eventually puts back the miss of the 2nd. He adds another free throw after a terrible call inside against Osseo on a flop. That cuts the lead to 6 before 2 more Osseo turnovers. Xavier Bonner banks in a 3 with 1:50 left to cut the lead in half. Osseo makes 3 of 4 free throws around a Dainja bucket. Then a crazy offensive foul call on Theisen gives Park Center the ball back. The Pirates promptly go to Dainja on the inbounds and he cuts the lead to 2 with 31 seconds left. He fouls out on the Osseo possession. Osseo makes 1 of 2 to give Park Center 1 last chance. They miss and the putback at the buzzer is meaningless. Osseo wins 62-61. Zach Theisen with 18 points. Marice Nelson came up big with 15 of his 18 in the 1st half for Osseo. John Bezdicek added 13. Losini Kamara 14, Khari Broadway with 17 to lead Park Center. Dain Dainja added 12. Osseo held Kamara mostly in check and mostly handled the pressure (until the end). Their experience was a difference in hanging on.
Game 2: Champlin Park vs Mounds View
Mounds View did everything they could to try to slow the pace. They walked it up after misses and played zone extensively. But a bad early omen for Mounds View when DJ Hunter knocks down 2 3s and Champlin Park jumps out to a 10-3 lead. Nick McMillan with back to back triples to pull Mounds View within 19-15 at the 6 minute mark of the half. That gets their crowd energized. But Champlin Park finishes the half on an 11-2 run. McKinley Wright and Brian Smith with 3s in that run. Most of that without Theo John who sat the last 5:04 with 2 fouls. 30-17 Champlin Park at the half.
John picks up a quick 3rd and sits for 6:35 before playing 23 more seconds and getting his 4th. But it doesn't make a huge difference. A McMillan hoop pulls Mounds View within 32-22. But Champlin Park spreads the zone out and finally puts McKinley Wright in the middle. He hits a 3 off a BLOB vs the 2-3 zone and then catches in the middle and finishes. 41-22 Rebels with 12:03 left. Mounds View has to go man after that and that's not good. Champlin Park outscores Mounds View 37-8 over the final 14:40. Champlin Park wins 69-40 and will play Osseo for the section title in Rogers on Friday night. McKinley Wright leads all scorers with 21 points. Marcus Hill chips in with 11. Brian Smith with 9. Nick McMillan leads Mounds View with 16 points and 3 triples. Brian Stone with all 13 of his points in the 2nd half. But nobody else had more than a bucket. Theo John with only 4 points and was in foul trouble for a large chunk of the game.