OSSEO — The Osseo-Fairchild Thunder took their home court Saturday night looking for revenge.
Almost a year ago to the day, the Thunder watched as the Melrose-Mindoro Mustangs cut down the nets on their home court. It’s a moment that’s been imprinted in their memories for a year.
“They were more than thinking about it,” Thunder coach Tim Popple said. “We weren’t letting them cut our nets down again.”
A 30-point effort from Logan Mulhern was more than enough to avenge the loss, taking down the Mustangs 82-62 at Osseo-Fairchild.
“We wanted it more,” Mulhern said. “This is what we played all summer for; this is what we prepared for.”
The two teams exchanged shots for the first few minutes, but after a controversial block call against the Mustangs at the 11:05 mark of the first half, the Thunder took over.
Osseo-Fairchild entered halftime up 10 with Mulhern and Cory Myhers combining for 23 of the team’s 36 points. Myhers used his 6-foot-5 frame to control the paint and seemed to always come up with a bucket when the Thunder sent it inside to their senior big-man.
“He still doesn’t realize how big he is,” Popple said. “If he ever really, really decides to take over, look out, because he is so big and so strong.”
The Thunder came storming out of the halftime break. Mulhern quickly put up 10 points including a pair of and-1s on an 18-5 run to put the Mustangs away.
The run was the biggest difference between this year’s win and last year’s loss for the Thunder. Popple said his team is more mature than it was last year and that shows in the way they can string together extended runs without faze.
Mulhern continued to show why he’s a two-time Western Cloverbelt Conference player of the year. Aside from his offensive output, he was a force in the paint, grabbing rebounds and providing crucial perimeter defense for the Thunder.
“He’s obviously a staple for points,” Osseo-Fairchild’s Caden Boettcher said. “His hustle, his defense, his rebounding, everything.”
The Mustangs tried to contain Mulhern by beating him up physically. He was constantly on the ground, diving for balls and being fouled. Late in the second half he grabbed his face to nurse a bruise forming under his right eye.
“It felt like a football battle,” Mulhern said.
It was all worth it though. As he walked up the ladder to cut down the net he paused for a moment to look around and smile.
“It feels 100 percent awesome,” Mulhern said. “I can’t explain it.”
Boettcher and Myhers were the only other players to finish in double digits for the Thunder. Myhers finished with 16 points while Boettcher connected for 15 including a season-high four 3-pointers.
Senior forward Jimmy Polenz scored 21 points for the Mustangs including a pair of 3-pointers.
Now the Thunder advance to the sectional semifinals where they’ll take on the Fall Creek Crickets. Osseo-Fairchild won both regular season games against Fall Creek this year, but Popple acknowledges a three-game series sweep will be tough.
Osseo-Fairchild 82, Melrose-Mindoro 62
Melrose-Mindoro (16-7): Patrick Corcoran 7, Connor Christopherson 17, Payton Corcoran 10, Brett Gerdes 5, Kyle Stair 2, Jimmy Polenz 21
Osseo-Fairchild (22-2): Trevor Hammer 3, Ryan Myhers 5, Alex Watenphul 9, Garrett Koxlien 4, Logan Mulhern 30, Caden Boettcher 15, Cory Myhers 16
3-pointers: Melrose-Mindoro 7 (Corcoran, Christopherson 2, Corcoran, Gerdes, Polenz 2), Osseo-Fairchild 8 (Hammer, R. Myhers, Watenphul 2, Boettcher 4).
Halftime: Osseo-Fairchild 36-26.