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Prep Blog: Wrapping Up ‘March Madness’

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

Jeff Wald Jeff Wald
Jeff Wald started as a Web Producer at WCCO-TV in April of 2011....
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you were at the Target Center or watched on television, you saw this weekend what makes “March Madness” the phenomenal thing that it is.

Four state champions were crowned in Minnesota high school boys basketball on Saturday, but you won’t see two better finishes to a basketball game than the way DeLaSalle and Osseo won state championships. Every kid who puts a basketball in their hand as a kid dreams of it on their driveway while shooting baskets at home: Having a chance to hit the game-winning shot as time expires to win a state championship.

It happened not once, but twice Saturday night. I wonder what school was like for Ross Baker of DeLaSalle and Ian Theisen of Osseo on Monday. They each hit shots from about the same spot on the floor as time expired and the final buzzer sounded to win state championships. What followed were joyous celebrations for one team and the sadness of a heartbreaking loss for the other.

They came in completely different scenarios. In the Class AAA title game, DeLaSalle had a chance to extend its lead in overtime at the free-throw line, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Washburn got the rebound with 18 seconds left, and Joseph Doby took the ball the length of the court and scored to give the Millers a lead with less than 10 seconds left.

But Doby also slipped on the floor after taking a half second to celebrate his big shot. Meanwhile, the Islanders raced the ball back down the court and found Baker for an open baseline jumper, which hit nothing but net to give DeLaSalle the state championship. If Doby stays on his feet, he’s at least able to disrupt the shot if not block it.

It’s a perfect example of why you never stop playing, especially in a championship game.

The Class AAAA title game was mostly an offensive struggle, but it got interesting late in the second half as both teams started to hit shots. With the game tied 47-47, Osseo had the ball and held it for the final shot. The Orioles almost waited too long, then went to an unlikely source for the game winner.

Bridgeport Tusler and D.J. Herbert are the team’s top scorers. Will Johnson was also a capable scorer inside. With about seven seconds left, Tusler drove with the ball and 6 foot, 9 inch sophomore Ian Theisen was alone on the baseline. He drilled the shot from about 16 feet, and Lakeville North didn’t have any time left to get a shot off.

It was Theisen’s only basket of the second half in a 49-47 win for the Orioles.

The two games were everything you would want to sum up “March Madness:” Nerve-racking, back-and-forth action with players stepping up and making big shots in a state championship atmosphere. Baker and Theisen now have fun stories to share with their families the rest of their lives.

WCCO-TV had its final High School Sports Rally of the season Friday night, but stay with the Prep Blog for spring sports updates in baseball, softball, golf, track and field and tennis.

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