Bridge Tusler had his face stepped on, and as a result, his nose plugged to stop the bleeding.
Both coaches received technicals. Two form Champlin Park’s starting five fouled out. Osseo nearly matched that number.
If you missed it last March, no worries: The Class 4A, Section 5 boys basketball tournament seems to have already started again, and the physical brand that Osseo carried to a section title and eventual state championship just last year, will once again prove to be prevalent.
“It’s the only way,” said Tusler last week. “You might have to get bloody every once and a while.”
Tusler wore those words up his nose Dec. 20, as Osseo rallied from a 13-point first half hole to beat Champlin Park 60-53.
It was a gut-check moment for the Orioles, who just two days prior were knocked from their No. 1 state ranking with a loss to new No. 1 Park Center.
Champlin Park had a similar assessment of the test. They had held off Centennial Dec. 18, and entered the half against Osseo off a 35-point barrage that was coming from all corners.
It was the third week of December, which his still early in high school basketball, but it was a moment the Rebels led slip away.
“We had a chance to beat the defending state champions in their gym, and we didn’t get it done,” said head coach Mark Tuchscherer. “That’s disappointing. But what really makes it tough is we just didn’t play well when it mattered. We scored 18 points, and only five baskets in the entire second half. You don’t beat those guys that way.”
Actually, that is precisely out Osseo generally beat you, and after a halftime heart-to-heart discussion with his two best players, Tim Theisen watched his club win in the style they prefer.
“We are an inside-out team, and that is what we have to do offensively to be successful,” he said. “Defensively, we just need to play hard, and I thought we did both of those things.”
Junior center Ian Theisen did much of the work on both ends. He ended up with 19 points – a dozen of which came in the second half – to go with 20 rebounds and at least six blocks.
Tusler added 16 points for Osseo, including a pair of three’s early in the second half that chopped Champlin Park’s advantage down one possession shortly after the intermission.
Both were the subject of Tim Theisen’s halftime conversation, and both responded positively.
“We really challenged our leaders, those two guys, to step up in the second half and lead by example, lead us the way we know they can,” Theisen said. “And I thought both were tremendous when we needed them to be.”
Champlin Park was out of options late, as each of the Rebels two leading scorers – J.T. Gibson and Brennan Witt – fouled out down the stretch.
“And we were still in it,” said Tuchscherer. “We lose both of those guys, and we aren’t really playing well to start with, but we were still in it. It’s December. I’ll take that. We’re going to be there in the end.”