As record-setting nights go, few are as special as the one Zach Theisen experienced.
Theisen, a senior guard at Osseo, set a program record by making nine three-pointers on Jan. 16 at Totino-Grace. The performance came with Tim Theisen, his father and the Orioles’ coach, on one bench. On the other was Nick Carroll, Totino-Grace coach and Zach’s AAU coach with D1 Minnesota.
“It was a fun game to play in and I was more loose,” Theisen said. “Their fans even started getting into it in the second half.”
Theisen missed his first two shots, including a three-point attempt. By halftime, he connected on a trio of three-pointers. The slow start didn’t faze him.
“Every really good shooting performance I’ve had, my first two or three shots didn’t go in,” Theisen said. “It’s weird.”
He exploded in the second half with six three-pointers, adding his name to another program record. Theisen also holds marks for most three-pointers made in a season, 80 as a junior, and career, 223 and counting into Thursday’s game at Armstrong.
Theisen developed a love for the game playing with cousins Jenny and Scott Theisen at their grandmother’s house. Jenny later played at Minnesota State Moorhead, Scott at Carleton. Theisen is honing his craft at Osseo High School.
“I’d love to just go up to school and shoot threes,” he said. “That’s when I started to love shooting and I just kept working on it.”
Promoted to varsity during his freshman season, Theisen grew in the offense. Once a catch-and-shoot threat, Theisen developed his dribble and moves to get himself free for open looks. Repetitions with a shooting machine and drills to provide a quicker release helped, as did retaining a shooter’s short memory.
“I know that even if the first few don’t go in, one will drop soon if I stay confident and keep doing my same motion,” he said.
Led by Theisen’s scoring, Osseo won 13 of 14 games and reached No. 7 in the Class 4A coaches poll. Team success is as sweet as any swish.
“It feels special to be on the records list because there are so many good players who came through Osseo.” Theisen said. “And it’s helping the team win, which is the key.”
Findell finds the mark
As a sophomore, Sophie Findell’s varsity basketball role started with feeding the ball to Sydney Driggs and settling for a few open shots each game.
When Driggs — ranked fourth among Irondale’s career scoring leaders — graduated, Findell’s role expanded. So did her shooting range. Proficiency from the three-point arc fueled Findell’s rise up the program’s leaderboard.
In a Feb. 2 game at Osseo, Findell, now a senior guard, overtook the career mark for three-pointers in a season when she drained No. 57. The crowd roared for the record shot, though Findell was unaware of the milestone until after the game.
More cheering awaits. With five games left in the regular season, Findell is 16 three-pointers from the career mark of 142.
The most impressive number, however, might be her shooting percentage from deep. She is connecting on 43 percent of her three-pointers, a mark that would smash Irondale’s single-season best (38.3 set by Driggs).
“I’m a lot more confident,” Findell said. “My coach, this year and last year, gave me the green light to shoot whenever. You just want to take good shots, smart shots.”
Variety also matters. Averaging 16.4 points per game, Findell’s baskets come from different places on the floor. Long-range shots are her specialty, but she brings more to the offense.
“I try to mix it up with my driving and shooting,” she said.
She has made at least four three-pointers in a game seven times this season. Finding a rhythm starts with a relaxed state of mind.
“If I think about it, it’s a lot more rough than if I kind of go with it,” Findell said.
Pregame warmups are her time for a self-assessment. If shots aren’t falling, she ensures her elbow is in proper form. Once that is settled, Findell goes back to what comes naturally.