LINCOLN — The story wasn't supposed to end this way for Osmond.
Not when Merrix Denn hit a falling-to-the-left 3-pointer for the lead at the end of the first quarter.
And not when Nick Reikofski gave the Tigers a spark off the bench with two putbacks off blocked shots to keep it tied going into halftime of the Class D2 boys basketball state championship game.
But when fifth-seeded Johnson-Brock turned to the deep ball, third-seeded Osmond couldn't keep up, leading to a 67-54 loss in Saturday's nightcap at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
For Osmond coach Todd Schulze, the final outcome was not a verdict on the success of the season as a whole.
“It was the best in school history,” he said. “We were 27-2, conference champs, district champs, and a state runner-up. It's been absolutely a great, great ride. They're an awesome group of kids.”
Osmond entered Lincoln with the shortest lineup of any team that qualified for state regardless of class — just two players in its main rotation are taller than 6 feet. Johnson-Brock, which started four players 6-foot-1 or taller, was able to take advantage.
But the Eagles took advantage in a way that statistic would not have suggested — on the perimeter. Johnson-Brock's guards gave Osmond fits all night because it could keep possession away from the Tigers' more diminutive yet pesky backcourt.
“We are not that big. Our guards are awfully small,” Schulze said. “We haven't used that as an excuse all year. We definitely have battled. But tonight it was a little bit too tough for us.”
Kaden Glynn was 5 of 8 from 3-point range on his way to a game-high 25 points for the Eagles, while Ty Hahn added 15 points and seven assists. Glynn and Hahn combined to hit 15 of 30 shots from the field. Dylan Rowe added a game-high 10 rebounds.
Glynn put Johnson-Brock ahead for good with a 3-point play less than 1½ minutes into the second half. That started a 9-0 run capped by back-to-back Cole Fossenbarger baskets for a 44-37 lead at the 4:00 mark. The Eagles led by at least two possessions the rest of the game.
“Johnson-Brock was, to me, the hardest team for us to match up to all year,” Schulze said. “Their ability to shoot with four guys on the court at the same time, their ability to drive with two players, 20 and 23 (Glynn and Hahn), just made it very challenging for us.”
Keaton Timmerman led Osmond with 19 points, six rebounds and three blocks, while Justus Maertins finished with 14 points and three blocks, and Reikofski came off the bench for 10 points and six rebounds. Denn had eight points early but was whistled for his third foul midway through the quarter and never got in a rhythm again.
Down 34-28 with 2:14 left in the first half, Reikofski and Timmerman combined to score seven of the last eight points. Reikofski put back a blocked shot for two, and then Maertins blocked Hahn to set up Timmerman's third 3 of the half to put the Tigers within one. Graysen Schultze's layup was blocked with 16 seconds left, but Reikofski was there for the rebound and putback to tie it up before the break.
“That was huge. Nick's a guy who we know we're going to get the heart and the hustle and the defense and the rebounding out of him, and to see him get those points tonight ... that was a nice bonus for us,” Schulze said.
It didn't look good early, as Johnson-Brock took advantage of Osmond's man-to-man defense to hit three of its first four shots for a 7-2 lead. But the Tigers roared back with six straight from the field.
Aaron Chishiba tied it with a layup, and Denn drilled a 25-foot 3-pointer for the first Osmond lead. Maertins followed with a pull-up jumper in the lane for a 14-12 lead with 2:28 on the clock. Hahn tied it with a layup, and Glynn banked in a 3 with 57 seconds left.
Denn punctuated the quarter in a big way. He somehow got the ball from Chishiba as he was harassed in a double team, and while falling to his left, Denn threw up a 3-pointer near the top of the key that went through at the buzzer.
“I thought our kids played their hearts out,” Schulze said. “I don't doubt that for a second. I haven't doubted that all year.”
Osmond 20 15 11 8 — 54
Johnson-Brock 17 18 18 14 — 67
OSMOND (27-2): Aaron Chishiba 1-4 0-0 2; Merrix Denn 3-10 0-0 8; Justus Maertins 6-13 1-2 14; Graysen Schultze 0-4 1-2 1; Keaton Timmerman 7-13 2-3 19; Nick Reikofski 5-6 0-0 10. Totals: 22-50 4-7 54.
JOHNSON-BROCK (24-4): Cole Fossenbarger 3-7 1-2 8; Dylan Rowe 2-4 3-4 8; Kaden Glynn 9-18 2-5 25; Ty Hahn 6-12 3-6 15; Seth Moerer 3-5 2-4 8; Wyatt Volker 1-3 0-0 3; Shane Westhart 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 24-50 11-21 67.
3-point field goals: OSM 6-17 (Timmerman 3-5, Denn 2-5, Maertins 1-4, Schultze 0-1, Chishiba 0-2); J-B 8-16 (Glynn 5-8, Rowe 1-1, Volker 1-2, Fossenberger 1-4, Westhart 0-1). Rebounds: OSM 31 (Timmerman 6, Reikofski 6); J-B 31 (Rowe 10). Assists: OSM 14 (Chishiba 8); J-B 14 (Hahn 7). Steals: OSM 2; J-B 6 (Glynn 3). Blocked shots: OSM 6 (Maertins 3, Timmerman 3); J-B 4 (Fossenbarger 2, Glynn 1, Westhart 1).