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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Basketball (B)
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Robbinsdale Armstrong

4A Championship: Boot Doesn't Bother Buffalo

By Ryan Phelps
Target Center - Minneapolis, MN

Darrin Olmscheid battles inside

In an instant-classic, Buffalo defeated Robbinsdale Armstrong 67-65 to win the Boys' Class 4A State Title, the first in school history.  The Bison were back in the state tourney for the first time in 76 years, and this made it worth the wait.  It was a see-saw second half, with Armstrong up by ten at one point, but in the end Darrin Olmscheid's hoop in the lane with 0:02 seconds left, gave Buffalo the Championship. 


The fact that Olmscheid was given the ball isn't surprising, but it was that Buffalo's leading scorer, Josh Ortmann was never considered.  He injured his ankle in the semifinals and was forced to play with a boot-like ankle brace.


“He’s carried us all year, so it was time for us to carry him this game,” said Almscheid, who finished with a game-high 25 points.  “Josh was out there for intimidation or whatever you want to say, but he did as good as he could tonight.”


The Falcons tried to take advantage offensively.  Ortmann knew it was part of the plan, saying “Right from the get go I heard their coach say, ‘Go at 24,’ so I knew I had to stay off a little and just hold my ground.”  His offensive output was impacted as well, tallying only nine points.


“There were times when I was 50 percent," admitted Ortmann.  "And then when we got to that stretch where everyone was knocking threes back and forth, during that I got to about 90 percent.”  That stretch was with eight minutes left in the game.  The two teams exchanged three pointers like heavyweight fighters.  Olmscheid knocked down a pair from the right elbow, with Armstrong answering back courtesy of Alex Rubin and Carter Biewen.


“I had a city league game once where we lit the nets up like that but nobody was cheering,” said Bison coach Nicholas Guida.


The game was tied at 57 when the momentum shifted toward Buffalo.  Karl Olson hit four free throws, but Biewen kept the game close nailing another three from the left side.  Buffalo called a timeout with 0:18 seconds left and the game knotted at 65.  The call was made.


“We prepared ourselves for if Josh was not going to be at 100 percent.  And it was just going to be one of those things where we’re going to have to have someone step it up.”  That someone was Olmscheid.  The inbounds pass was made and Olmscheid made a move in the lane, cocked and fired.


Guida said, “Once he got in the lane I knew it was going in because he rose up and he’s got such soft hands.”  Bison guard Dee Broadnax said it felt like an eternity.  “Like three hours.  But something told me it was going to drop so I just watched it go in.”  And Ortmann just wanted the game to end saying, “You better put that through because I do not want to go into overtime.”


The game ended on time, but 76 years after Buffalo's last tournament appearance.  To the coach, this game has more meaning than just a title for his town.  “It’s amazing what athletics and sports and teams can do to a community.  Yesterday I was driving through town and 20 minutes worth of running errands turned into two hours, just because people wanting to visit about the excitement about what was happening.”


His players, about 15 years younger felt something special too.  “We said this is our one shot, we haven’t been here for 76 years.  It’s amazing,” said Olmscheid.  “It was unbelievable.  I’ve watched guys do it all my life.  I’ve always wanted to do it.  I finally got to do it.”


With most of the Buffalo fans still watching, Guida cut down the Target Center net and the crowd went wild.  “It’s what team and sports is all about tonight," said Guida.  "I really honestly believe that.”


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