Osseo stops Mounds View in section final

Mounds View faced the top two teams from the Northwest Suburban Conference last week in the Section 5AAAA boys basketball playoffs. The Mustangs were able to take down one of them but the other proved to be too tough.

Following a dramatic overtime victory in the quarterfinals, Mounds View faced ninth-ranked Champlin Park in the semifinals on Feb. 29 and came away with a hard-fought 61-58 victory. 

For their efforts, the Mustangs earned the privilege of tangling with second-ranked Osseo with a trip to the state tournament on the line. An early 14-point deficit was more than Mounds View could overcome as the Orioles held on for a 76-65 victory.



The Orioles entered the section final with an unblemished record and showed why right away. Osseo’s pressure defense gave Mounds View trouble and allowed the Orioles to jump out to a 19-5 lead. They forced the Mustangs into 15 first-half turnovers.

“We fell behind and that really hurt us,” said Mounds View head coach Dave Leiser. “They’re a tough team to catch when you fall behind because they have such quickness.”

Slowly, Mounds View adjusted to the pressure and began to work its way back into the game. The closest the Mustangs would get in the first half was five points at 24-19. Of the seven baskets Mounds View made in that stretch, six were layups or putbacks.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys how they battled and fought and hung in there,” said Leiser. “I was worried that it would get out of hand but we kept coming back and coming back and coming back.”

Up by seven to start the second half, Osseo again looked like it would blow Mounds View out of the gym as it increased its lead to as many as 13 points. The Mustangs weathered the storm once again and pulled to within five at 62-57.

That would be as close as Mounds View would get as Osseo closed out the game at the free-throw line. 

Osseo finished with four players scoring in double figures and was led by Damario Armstrong’s 21.

Mounds View senior Nate Albers led all scorers with 31 points and he got 21 of those in the second half. 

“He had to earn his 31,” Leiser said. “What a great career he had, especially his senior season; one of the best in our school’s history, which says a lot.”

Nick McMillan added a dozen for the Mustangs.

Mounds View finishes the season with a record of 22-7. The appearance in the section final was the first for the Mustangs since 2005.

“Probably the best season we’ve had in quite some time,” Leiser said. “I think it was a big year for our program to see our team together and become united as a team. A lot of people talk about Nate because he was our high scorer, but it was a group effort. Everyone figured it out and did their role and fought together. That’s the kind of team we want to build.”


Champlin Park

Mounds View’s semifinal at Champlin Park was its first true road playoff game in three years and it handled playing in hostile territory well. The Mustangs led by four at halftime, were up by as many as 10 in the second half and held off the Rebels’ late surge.

Mounds View grabbed its largest lead at 50-40 on a pair of free throws by River Thompson. From there, Champlin Park went on a 14-4 run to tie the game at 54-54.

On Mounds View’s next possession, Albers, who struggled with his shooting in the second half, drained a three pointer to put the Mustangs ahead for good. Champlin Park twice cut the lead to one point but could not get any closer.

In addition to leading the offense, Albers also came up with the defensive play of the game in the final seconds. With Mounds View leading by one, Champlin Parkís McKinley Wright got into the lane and pulled up for a jumper but Albers got a piece of the ball and it fell short. 

Mounds View snagged the rebound and eventually Zeke Thompson was fouled. He made both free throws to make it a three-point game and Champlin Park’s final shot to tie it was off the mark.

Albers finished with a game-high 24 points and Zeke Thompson added 20. Thompson had scored 29 points in the quarterfinals against Centennial, giving him first back-to-back 20-plus point games of the season.

Wright led Champlin Park with 19 and Theo John scored 16. Both players are future Division I talents and Leiser was pleased with his team’s defense against them.

“They have two Division I-caliber players,” Leiser said. “Wright is tough to guard and I thought Zeke did a good job staying in front of him. We helped on John when we could. I know he had some points but he earned everything he got.”

Offensively, when Mounds View was patient, it was successful.

“Our goal is to get a good shot,” said Leiser. “If that takes a minute or it takes 10 seconds, that’s what we want to get. We grade our shots red, yellow and green. We want them to take a lot of greens.”


Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

Section 5AAAA boys
basketball playoffs

​Game 1 – Osseo 92, Roseville 44
Game 2 – Park Center 70, Spring Lake Park 56
Game 3 – Mounds View 69, Centennial 67, OT 
Game 4 – Champlin Park 79, Irondale 51

Game 5 – Osseo 60, Park Center 52
Game 6 – Mounds View 61, Champlin Park 58

Championship game
Game 7 – Osseo 76, Mounds View 65

Class AAAA boys basketball
state tournament

At Target Center unless noted

Quarterfinals, Wednesday
Game 1 – Eden Prairie (Unseeded, 16-13) vs. Osseo (No. 1, 29-0), 10 a.m.
Game 2 – Lakeville North (No. 5, 24-5) vs. Maple Grove (No. 4, 25-4), 12 p.m.
Game 3 – North St. Paul (Unseeded, 24-5) vs. Hopkins (No. 2, 28-1), 2 p.m.
Game 4 – Blaine (Unseeded, 19-10) vs. Apple Valley (No. 3, 28-1), 4 p.m.

Semifinals, Thursday
Game 5 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 8 p.m.

Third-place game, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Concordia-St. Paul
Game 7 – Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser

Championship game, Saturday, 8 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner


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