By Matthew Davis – Contributing Writer
Champlin Park’s upset of Centennial on senior night looked like a distant memory on Friday night.
Rebels senior guard Alexis Alexander struggled with a tough rotation of Cougars guards covering her, throwing off the whole offense. An impressive postseason run ended for the Rebels in 61-43 to the Cougars in the Class 4A Section 5 championship game.
Alexander led the Rebels with 14 points, but many times she had missed shots or her passes did not result in baskets. Cougars senior guards and Army recruits Daizjay and Destinee Morris pressured her all night.
“I give all the credit in the world to Centennial,” Rebels coach Jake Kuppe said. “They played fantastically.”
Sidney Hilley had some success in the post for the Rebels early on and finished with seven points, and Mariya Sampson had six points in the post. Then, the Cougars put on more defensive pressure inside and boxed out more for rebounds.
“We lost our edge on the boards,” Kuppe said.
Defensively, the Rebels could not slow down the state’s second-highest scoring offense. An early 6-4 lead for the Rebels turned out to be their last of the night as the Cougars built a 25-13 late in the half. Alexander drilled a three to give her team some hope going into the locker room at 25-16.
Early in the second half, the Rebels pulled within eight early in the second half, but the Cougars went on an 11-2 run to pull ahead comfortably, 39-22. A scoreless drought of over three minutes hobbled the Rebels as the Cougars extended their lead to 22 points, 57-35.
“We could never get into a rhythm offensively,” Kuppe said.
The Rebels ended the season at 17-11 overall and will graduate six seniors from the team.
“I thought we had a great season,” Kuppe said. “We had our ups and downs. We learned a lot. We learned to play a different style of basketball than they played last year.”