OSMOND — For almost the entire season, the knock against Class D No. 3 Osmond was that, even though the Tigers were undefeated, they hadn’t been tested all too often this season.
Case in point: Of its 14 wins coming into Tuesday, Osmond had defeated just two teams with double-digit wins on the season and five teams with double-digit losses. Meanwhile, fourth-ranked Laurel-Concord-Coleridge entered the night unbeaten against non-Class C1 competition.
“We knew they were going to be our toughest test of the season so far,” Osmond senior Keaton Timmerman said. “We were looking forward to playing them after having a few games in a row against not as good of opponents.”
LCC gave Osmond that test when it turned a 10-point deficit into a 35-31 lead with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter. But the Tigers responded in a manner befitting the defending Class D2 runner-up.
Junior guard Graysen Schultze scored a personal 7-0 run to end the third quarter, and after the visiting Bears tied the game with 5:33 left, the Tigers scored 15 of the game’s final 21 points for a 55-46 victory between the top two teams in the Lewis & Clark Conference.
The latest brackets had LCC listed as the first seed and Osmond second for the conference tournament set to begin Saturday.
“It’s a big win. It’s probably one that everybody had circled at the start of the year just because of the teams we had last year and the guys that we were bringing back,” Osmond coach Todd Schulze said. “It’s just good, honestly, for us to get tested. ... It’s nice to get that test before next week heading into the conference tournament.”
The Tigers had trouble containing the Bears’ Noah Schutte in the second and third quarters and again to begin the fourth quarter when Schutte hit a layup and then a deep 3-pointer from one of the volleyball lines with 5:33 left to tie the game at 40. But Schutte, who finished with game highs of 27 points and 14 rebounds, was held to two points as LCC combined for one field goal the rest of the way.
“A game like this isn’t good for anybody when you come out on the losing end,” LCC coach Todd Erwin said. “The kids will regroup and get after it. I thought our focus wasn’t the best. That happens. That happens with all of us, let alone being 15 or 16 years old.
“But credit Osmond. They played a great game, made a lot of shots and a lot of movements that we had to comprehend and stay with.”
That opened the door for a rather unlikely hero. Osmond sophomore Ryan Schmit had eight points, but all of them came in crucial spots, including a banked-in 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer for a 16-8 lead, and two driving layups — one of which resulted in a 3-point play — as part of the Tigers’ game-ending run.
“Both times he was dribbling through that press, and in my head, I’m going, ‘No, no, no, he’s going to turn it over or something’s going to happen,’ and he made two really tough shots and an and-one and he made the free throw,” Schulze said. “He had some big momentum-building plays for us in that one.”
Osmond senior Justus Maertins, who added another eight points while sitting out more than half of the third quarter with four fouls, started the run with a basket down low before Schmit’s and-one. Maertins and Schmit added another basket each for a 49-42 lead with three minutes left. Timmerman and Schultze padded the lead, and then Maertins’ free throws with 1:54 on the clock put the Tigers in front 55-44, and all the Bears could muster the rest of the way was a basket by Ty Erwin.
Timmerman, a summer-league teammate of Schutte, notched his own double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Schultze added 17 points, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and six rebounds.
Osmond rode a hot start on its way to an 18-8 lead following a layup by Schmit at the first-quarter buzzer and a Timmerman bucket 15 seconds into the second quarter.
“Our last few games, we’ve had kind of a slow start, so I just wanted to try and get us out and going right away and try not to get behind right away,” Timmerman said. “We knew if we got behind early, it would be bad.”
But throughout the second quarter, foul trouble began to play a factor for Osmond, which had three starters with a combined eight fouls in the first half. That meant the defenders who had shut down Schutte to just two points and 0 for 5 field-goal shooting in the first quarter couldn’t play as aggressive. Schutte took advantage by hitting 3 of 4 from the field and 7 of 8 free throws in the second quarter alone, with his final basket putting LCC within 25-24 with 1:07 until halftime.
Ty Erwin and Schutte then combined for nine points in the first 4½ minutes of the third quarter, capped by a Schutte basket with 3:30 on the clock, for a 35-31 lead.
“We switched up to a bit of a matchup zone, but they were doing a good job of scoring on that, so we tried moving guys around who maybe weren’t the best matchup but a guy who had two fouls instead of a guy who had four,” Schulze said. “But the big part was those guys just adjusted. ... That was probably the biggest thing.”
LCC 8 18 9 11 — 46
Osmond 16 11 11 17 — 55
LAUREL-CONCORD-COLERIDGE (12-4): Evan Schmitt 0-2 0-0 0; Cael Hartung 1-3 0-0 2; Noah Schutte 7-17 12-14 27; Evan Haisch 1-5 2-2 5; Ty Erwin 4-15 1-4 9; Austin Hall 1-2 1-1 3. Totals: 14-44 16-21 46.
OSMOND (15-0): Aaron Chishiba 1-5 0-0 2; Ryan Schmit 3-8 1-1 8; Keaton Timmerman 9-23 2-2 20; Graysen Schultze 7-13 0-0 17; Zach Huwaldt 0-1 0-0 0; Justus Maertins 3-6 2-2 8. Totals: 23-56 5-5 55.