By Matthew Davis
Northwest Suburban Conference boys basketball champion Champlin Park looked untouchable as they rolled past Irondale.
Seventeen Rebels saw playing time as they won their boys basketball Section 5 4A quarterfinal game 93-36 at home against the Knights on Thursday, Feb. 27. As the No. 1 seed in the section, the Rebels opened a 57-20 halftime lead and never looked back.
“It was a complete team effort,” Rebels coach Mark Tuchscherer said.
Junior guard JT Gibson led the Rebels in scoring with 14 points, and Marty Hill had 13 points and three assists. Senior forward Brennan Witt had 12 points and seven rebounds. Freshman guard McKinley Wright scored nine along with grabbing six rebounds and getting three steals.
Senior guard and Division II Northern State recruit Ian Smith also had three steals and three assists along with six points. Rebels freshman forward Theo John came off the bench and posted seven points and had three rebounds. Junior forward Jack Darnell also put up seven points off the bench.
As a team the Rebels dominated physically with 14 steals, 30 rebounds and five blocked shots. They kept the Knights’ offense under control all night and held them to just 16 second-half points. Only one Knights player scored in double figures.
“I think the keys to the victory were our defensive pressure and the ability to turn defensive stops into transition points,” Tuchscherer said.
Routing the Knights landed the Rebels in the semifinals on Tuesday against No. 4-seeded Park Center at Rogers. The Pirates advanced to the semifinals with a 71-55 win at home over No. 5 seed Centennial. During the regular season, the Rebels swept the Pirates.
Tuesday’s winner plays either No. 2 seed Osseo or No. 3 seed Maple Grove in the Section 5 4A title game at Rogers on Friday at 7 p.m. In regular season competition, the Rebels split with the Orioles and swept the Crimson.
Regardless of the section outcome, this year’s Rebels team (24-2, 18-1 NWSC) cemented themselves in school history with the program’s third NWSC title. The Rebels last won the NWSC crown in 2010 when they went to state.
“They will always be a part of that history representing Champlin Park as conference champs,” Tuchscherer said.
State Swimming and Diving
Ben McBroom of Champlin Park represented the Rebels at the State Boys Swimming and Diving Meet on Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1.
McBroom swam in the 50-yard freestyle, seeking the new school record, which he came short of. The Rebels senior swimmer had a time of 22.44 seconds for 25th place in the preliminaries. It turned out to be his only swim at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center since swimmers needed to place in the top 16 to advance to the finals.
McBroom had taken in the 50 at the Section 7AA meet on Feb. 21-22 with a time of 22.33 to qualify for the state meet.