MADISON — Osseo-Fairchild got the clean look at the basket it needed.
The bounce just wasn’t friendly enough.
Logan Mulhern’s desperation one-handed attempt at the buzzer hit the edge of the rim and skipped over the basket, leaving Osseo-Fairchild on the losing end of a wild 70-68 thriller against Lourdes Academy in the Division 4 state semifinals on Thursday at the Kohl Center.
“Basketball’s a funny sport,” Osseo-Fairchild coach Tim Popple said. “You’ve got to have a little luck. There were probably 10 different ways we could have won that game, but it just didn’t happen.”
Hayden Jones gave Lourdes the lead in the final seconds, converting an open look in the paint for what proved to be the game-winner.
With their last chance of the night, the Thunder heaved the ball up the court, and Mulhern corralled the toss near the baseline for his last-ditch shot.
It just wouldn’t fall.
“Hats off to Osseo, what a great team,” Lourdes coach Brad Clark said. “It’s been us all year. We’ve weathered storms. We’ve battled back.”
Mulhern gave a Herculean effort in his final high school game, scoring 33 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and dishing out six assists. He was key in helping the Thunder overturn a 16-point deficit to take a lead into the final minutes.
“He really mauled us on the boards and in the paint. Great player, really great player,” Clark said of Mulhern.
Three Osseo-Fairchild turnovers fuelled a 9-0 run for Lourdes midway through the first half to establish a 24-12 lead for the Knights. Mulhern ended the Thunder’s two-and-a-half minute scoring drought with a bucket through contact.
Another big run later in the half — this one a 9-2 spurt — helped the Knights take a 36-20 lead with 4:19 until halftime.
But a resounding response from the Thunder made a game of it. Caden Boettcher hit a 3 to cut the lead to eight points with 1:11 to go, and Mulhern drained one from beyond the arc in the final seven seconds to cap a 14-3 run that shrunk the lead to 39-34 going into the break.
Mulhern’s outstanding play was clear from the opening tip. He recorded a double-double with plenty of time to spare before halftime, taking 17 points and 13 rebounds into the break.
The Thunder, as they planned coming in, swapped between a variety of defenses in an effort to slow down a Knights team that shoots the lights out from deep. Lourdes punished any openings in a zone, but Osseo-Fairchild’s man-to-man defense fared better and at times helped the Thunder go on their run late in the first half.
“We switched defenses about 50 times in that game. We did everything we could to keep them from making those 3s,” Popple said.
Mulhern brought the score level with a 3-pointer early in the second half. Cory Myhers didn’t wait long to add to the fire, finishing near the basket to put the Thunder up 41-39 — their first lead since it was 4-3.
“We didn’t want to go home, not like that. So we gave everything we had,” Mulhern said.
A 12-4 run fuelled by several free throws allowed Lourdes to tie it at 62 with under three minutes remaining. But Mulhern exploded through contact and came up with a tremendous finish for an old fashioned three-point play shortly after to restore the lead.
But Henry Noone connected on a 3-pointer just as the clock passed the one-minute mark to knot things back up at 68. Osseo-Fairchild couldn’t connect on a shot on its next possession, setting the scene for Jones’ game-winner.
Osseo-Fairchild played airtight defense on Lourdes guards Noone and Preston Ruedinger to prevent them from being the ones to hit the winner. It left Jones all alone underneath the basket.
“Preston made a good drive, made a good pass to me, and thankfully I made it,” Jones said.
It ended the Thunder’s dream season and first trip to state since 1992. Osseo-Fairchild finished with a 24-3 record. They were Western Cloverbelt Conference champions for the second straight season.
Seven seniors will graduate for the Thunder, a group that helped put Osseo-Fairchild back on the map in the prep basketball scene.
“Sure, you’re going to remember this day for the rest of your life. You don’t live in the past though,” Popple said. “These kids’ future is ahead of them. These seniors can do whatever they want, be whatever they want. And that’s the message. Look back and enjoy the good times you had with all those friends, all those games. ... And then you just look to the future.”
Lourdes Academy 70, Osseo-Fairchild 68
Osseo-Fairchild: Ryan Myhers 9, Alex Watenphul 3, Logan Mulhern 33, Caden Boettcher 9, Cory Myhers 12, Garrett Koxlien 2.
Lourdes Academy: Hayden Jones 6, Henry Noone 23, Benny Huizenga 9, Jack McKellips 9, Preston Ruedinger 15, Joshua Bauer 6, Caden Chier 2.
3-pointers: Osseo-Fairchild 6 (R. Myhers, Mulhern 2, Boettcher 3), Lourdes Academy 9 (Noone 4, Huizenga 2, McKellips, Ruedinger 2).
Halftime score: Lourdes Academy 39, Osseo-Fairchild 34.