What now seems like long ago, the Rebels defeated both Osseo and Centennial in the same week of the 2005-06 season, a year which would end with Champlin Park holding a fourth place trophy from the state basketball tournament.
A full seven years later, those two victories still stand alone in the accomplishments that version of Rebels would achieve, primarily because it was the last time Champlin Park defeated either.
That was, until last week.
In a stunning turn of fortune for the 2012-13 Rebels, the girls defeated Centennial 62-57 Feb. 5 and then won at Osseo 58-51 Feb. 8.
The victories simultaneously ended losing streaks of 15 games to Centennial, and 12 games against Osseo. But more importantly, they gave credence to the belief that the Rebels are becoming the team they sought out to be at the start.
“I think we’ve proven we can play with and beat just about anybody,” said head coach Doug Swenson. “Hopefully that serves us well when the games really matter. We don’t want last week to be the peak of our season. We want to build on it.”
That should be an easy sell for the coaches. The 2006-07 team used the two victories over Osseo and Centennial as building blocks as well, but that group ended up 23-3 that year, before playing into the school’s last state tournament appearance.
This year’s team was just 13-8 after last week’s victories. They are out of the race for the Northwest Suburban Conference, and may still very well open the Section 5 playoff on the road later this month.
“We’ve struggled some, and it could still cost us, but most of our issues were what we were doing offensively,” said Swenson. “Defensively, we’ve been where we want to be the whole year. It’s just been can we execute on the other end, and we’ve started to do that.”
The newfound comfort level on the scoring end has come with some benefits. Throughout the year, the idea was to be versatile offensively both in the post play, and on the perimeter.
Junior guard Alexis Alexander has taken care of the latter. She had 13 points in the win over Centennial, and then another 16 against Osseo. Her play triggered and opening inside, and ninth-grader Hanna Crymble – for one – took advantage.
She had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting against Centennial. Senior Kalli Zimmermann has also zoned in, scoring 25 points in the two wins.
“We were able to play multiple styles depending on the match-ups, and be successful with them,” said Swenson. “That should do us some good moving forward.”
Champlin Park’s next step came in the form of a Feb. 12 road trip to Elk River, a team that defeated the Rebels 46-41 Jan. 8.
The girls also host Coon Rapids at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, before finishing up the regular season next week at Blaine Feb. 19 and at home against Anoka Feb. 21.
Then the real fun begins. Regardless of last week’s victories, the Rebels will be seeded below both Osseo and Centennial. Roseville is expected to be the No.1 seed in the tournament, and Maple Grove, which has already swept Champlin Park this year, is also in the field.
“There are a lot of possible match-ups, and I stressed out some trying to figure it all out, but the attitude we are taking is who cares what seed we are,” said Swenson. “If we have to go to Maple Grove or to Osseo or to Centennial, so be it. And if we get a win and get to play Roseville, we’ll take it. Seeding is kind of out the window now. We’ll play whoever.”