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Posted On: 03/17/18 1:04 PM
Hop on County Road 81 heading north and it’s a quick shot to Rogers High School on Friday evening. Section 5AAAA championship is the game and Park Center vs. Osseo are the names. Very few rivalries match the intensity of this one and the crowd was in it from the beginning.
PC with their trademark hot start thanks to Emmanuel Tamba‘s relentless defensive pursuit while guarding Emmette Page. The energy spread to the rest of the Pirate lineup but Osseo hung tough despite foul trouble and trailed just 30-29 at halftime with Johnson Fallah coming up big off the Oriole bench. PC led 30-29 at halftime. The battle between undersized Osseo frontcourt players and Dain Dainja was really fun to watch all night, and when Park Center missed some shots, Osseo pushed with numbers in transition for easy scores. The Oriole lead jumped to six and they held on for a 61-57 victory over top-seeded PC in a classic District 279 tilt.
Osseo (23-6) advances to State for the sixth time in the last ten years under Coach Tim Theisen. My guess is they’ll land the 5th seed and face Eden Prairie in the first round. Park Center (24-5) finishes off a stellar season with plenty returning. Only three seniors graduate, although they are impactful. They upped their non-conference schedule and competed with so many great teams this year.
Emmette Page (SG, 6-2, Sr., Osseo) – Tamba was all over him early, denying just about any easy catch, but Emmette stepped into the post off some nice backside cuts for a couple buckets in the first half. He’s getting smarter in his positioning and movement off the ball. Finished with 11 points before fouling out, but he led some 3-on-2 breaks late with his forwards and zipped some gorgeous assists to extend the Oriole lead. Definitely not going down without a fight.
Richard Mulbah (PF, 6-3, Sr., Osseo) – Undersized but strong as all heck, Mulbah worked tirelessly to make life tough for the Park Center front line while cleaning up rebounds and dropoffs for his 13 points offensively. Nowadays it’s hard to make an impact as a small frontcourt player if you can’t space the floor or attack off the dribble, but Richard is an exception because he’s fearless inside and willing to square up against anybody. An elite glue guy.
Johnson Fallah (SF, 6-3, Sr., Osseo) – Fresh off a buzzer-beating tip-in against Champlin Park on Tuesday night, the excitement running through Fallah’s veins didn’t dip very much. He came off the bench as a spark on both ends for Osseo and scored 13 points including two huge free throws to put Osseo up by two possessions late in the game. He’s headed to UM-Crookston to play football next year as a defensive back.
Jarius Cook (SG, 6-3, Sr., Park Center) – The NDSU signee shot very well and did more in the paint than I’d seen before, crashing the glass for offensive boards and putbacks. We all know he’s a great threat from deep but I was impressed by his work drawing fouls inside and he went for a game-high 23 points.
Emmanuel Tamba (PG, 6-0, Jr., Park Center) – I haven’t seen a defensive gnat like Tamba in a long time. His hands are possibly the quickest in the state and nobody can beat him laterally. Goggles and all, one of the best perimeter defenders around. Two huge blocks in the first half along with a handful of steals. If I had to give a player comp, he reminds me of Marcus Smart. Really fun to watch him wreak havoc.