Osborne free throws lift Lynx past Bartlett boys

Mike Nesper

Austin Osborne might have shot just 43 percent from the foul line Thursday. But he sank two when it counted most.

With his team ahead by one point, the Dimond senior drained both free throws following a Bartlett technical foul with less than two seconds left to seal a 52-48 Lynx victory in the final first-round game of the Cook Inlet Conference basketball tournament.

Screaming Bartlett fans didn't distract Osborne.

"I've been in this situation before," he said.

Extending Dimond's season was all Osborne focused on, and a loss would have ended it. Instead, the Lynx will play again Friday and Bartlett's season is over unless the Golden Bears are able to secure one of two at-large berths available for the state tournament.

"I didn't want this to be my last game," Osborne said. "It feels good. Just being able to hit them for my team."

Osborne was a menace on the glass. He hauled in a game-high 19 rebounds -- 40 percent of his team's total boards. Osborne and teammate Carlos Diaz (13 boards) combined for 68 percent of Dimond's 47 rebounds.

Osborne added 14 points as did Dimond's Muhamad Cole. Zach Deloney was Dimond's third player in double figures with 11 points.

Marquis White and Payton Fullmer combined for 23 points to lead Bartlett's offense. Tyler Boyer's 11 rebounds paced the Golden Bears.

After trailing most of the game, Bartlett scored nine points in the third quarter's final two minutes to make it a one-possession game. A Kage Freelove 3-pointer gave Bartlett a one-point advantage early in the fourth.

An Osborne free throw tied it 48-48 with less than a minute to go. Deloney had a chance to make it a three-point lead when he went to line in a double-bonus situation with 15 seconds on the clock. He missed both shots.

Following a Bartlett timeout, White was called for a technical foul for excessive contact on Osborne as they went for a rebound off an Edress Irving miss. After Osborne made both free throws, Cole drew a foul and added one free throw for the final margin.

A tight game has been the standard for Bartlett and Dimond this season. The teams split in conference play, with the two games decided by a combined four points.

"Every game has come down to free throws," Osborne said.

Winning those types of contests isn't easy, Lynx coach Brad Lauwers said.

"I give our kids lots of credit to fight their way through this one," he said.

The fifth-seeded Lynx will need to limit turnovers if they want to knock off top-seeded West in Friday's semifinals, Osborne said. Controlling the game's tempo will also be key.

"We're going to have to slow them down," he said.

Dimond was one of two CIC teams to beat West this season in conference play -- the Lynx took a one-point victory in mid-February.

Lauwers said the Lynx are just where they want to be, fighting for a spot in the finals and one of two automatic Class 4A state berths.

"We're just glad to be playing the next day," he said.

Reach Mike Nesper at mnesper@adn.com or 257-4335.