A Section Final For the Ages

To Chanhassen for the highly anticipated 6AAA final between Orono and De La Salle.  These teams regarded as state title contenders when the season began and both have lived up to that expectation.  Its a full house in the bleachers and on the rails.  Lithgow, a JMOA rep and a 3rd on the whistles.  A quality performance as usual from the De La Salle pep band.  Richard Pitino in the house to watch his 2 Gopher recruits Gabe Kalscheur and Jarvis Omersa

Game Time
Max Bjorklund carrying the Orono offense early.  He goes floater, drifts to the weakside corner for 3, adds a free throw and hits a kickout 3.  12 all at the 10:16 mark.  CJ Dickson runs the floor hard for a layup, Gabe Kalscheur 2 FTs and a slick drive by Tyrell Terry for a 18-15 DLS lead.  Griffin Sage then knocks down 2 3s in a personal 8-0 run.  Then a Jarvis Omersa block and he'll grab that and find Bjorklund running out for a dunk.  10-0 Orono run and DLS needs a timeout.  25-18 Spartans lead at the 6:10 mark.  Kalscheur quickly responds with a 3 and a 3 point play.  Bjorklund with a jumper and 3 in a 8-0 Orono run.  Kalscheur answers that too with a pair of bombs.  Then a turnover and nobody finds Tyrell Terry so he says why not and buries a 3.  Kalscheur adds 2 free throws to end the half.  35 all going to halftime.  Kalscheur with 20 and 3 triples.  Bjorklund 16 with 3 triples of his own.

Kalscheur shot 5-5 from the line in the 1st half but incredibly had a stretch where he missed 7 out of 9 in the 2nd half.  He makes 1 of 3 FTs and a layup off a turnover to start the half.  Omersa very quiet in the 1st half on offense with only 2 FTs.  He picks that up in the 2nd half.  His back to back buckets put Orono back on top before Colton Codute sits with his 4th foul with 13:59 left.  Thomas Lecy for 3 and a Omersa putback for a 3 point play.  The Orono run is 11-2 for a 49-43 lead with 11:37 left.

An extra pass finds Jamison Battle for a left corner 3.  Omersa counters that with his own 3 to keep the lead at 4.  Codute back in the game and makes 4-4 FTs, all on the 1 and 1.  That counters a couple of Dickson buckets.  58-56 Orono inside of 7 minutes left.  Then 2 offensive boards for Orono leads to another Bjorklund 3.  Then its bang again from deep for Bjorklund.  Bjorklund then kicks to Sage for another bomb.  Omersa then smacks away a Kalscheur drive and Codute finishes that.  69-57 Orono with 4:47 left.  Orono crowd erupts and De La Salle needs a timeout.  Islanders in real trouble here.  Its an 11-1 Orono run in about 1:20.  Everything on their side.

But champions don't go away and Kalscheur rises to the occasion.  Terry scores, Orono misses a front end.  Rayquan Moore for 3.  Kalscheur an offensive board for 2 free throws after an Orono timeout.  Then its Kalscheur with a block and he turns that into a 3 on the other end.  Bjorklund 2 FTs to keep the lead at 4.  Then Kalscheur for 3 as Battle gets run over setting the screen.  Count the basket and Battle makes both ends of the bonus.  De La Salle has the lead back 72-71 with 1:39 left.  OH MY!  15-2 Islanders run in under 3 minutes.

Oh the fun is just beginning.  The fans will stand for the rest of the game.  Bjorklund responds with a clutch 3.  Kalscheur with a charge at the 1:15 mark.  Orono has the ball back up 2 and Codute makes 2 FTs with 46.8 left for a 4 point lead.  Kalscheur with a 3, Omersa 2 free throws and its Kalscheur again for 3.  78 all with 13.9 left.  How clutch is that!  De La Salle takes timeout on the make to set the defense.

But in this game, you know the fun can't be over yet.  Orono gets into nothing out of the timeout and a pass is knocked out of bounds with 5.2 left.  Orono has it on the side in front of their bench.  Omersa sets a zipper screen and gets the ball a step off the right block.  He takes 1 rhythm dribble and then spins right shoulder to the basket.  His attempt is short, Dickson grabs the rebound and time has not run out before Omersa fouls him on the frustration foul with 0.5 left.  The entire building is stunned and in disbelief.  Dickson makes both free throws to win it.  Heartbreak city for Orono after leading by 12 with 4:47 left and 4 with 46.8 left.  De La Salle wins 80-78.

Post Game:
Orono finishes the season 23-6.  Max Bjorklund was fantastic with 28 points and 6 triples to lead the Orono offense.  Colton Codute 17 points.  Griffen Sage with 11 ponits.  Jarvis Omersa 16 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks.  You have to feel terrible for him having his high school career end that way.  Without his play during the season and in the 2nd half of this one, the Spartans likely don't make it this far.  He had a great look inside at the end to win it and that's all you can ask.

Gabe Kalscheur with 7 3s and 38 points to lead the Islanders despite 9-16 FTs.  He scored 14 out of 16 De La Salle points to bring them back to tied at the end.  That included 4 3s in the last 2 minutes.  Couldn't have asked for a better game from him.  CJ Dickson with 12 points off the bench.  He ran the floor and attacked the basket in the full court and half court very effectively.  De La Salle's shot at a 7th straight class AAA title stays alive.  They'll be the top seed in next week's state tourney.

What a fantastic game that will go down in the memory bank.  Great environment, high quality play.  De La Salle just so sound defensively.  Orono solid play on their end as well.  Both teams making big time plays.   Star players making star plays.  And oh by the way, an absolutely improbable ending.  It doesn't get better than all of that.

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