by Bob San
SUN PRESS Newspapers
In a battle between two good defensive teams, Champlin Park made enough shots to edge Maple Grove 44-40 in a Section 5 girls’ basketball semifinal game March 11 at Anoka.
Maple Grove started off well and took a 6-0. But the Rebels went on a 14-3 run to take the lead. The score remained close with the Rebels leading 24-21 at halftime.
The score remained close in the second half and the Crimson made a run that put them ahead twice. Down 25-32, Maple Grove went on a 10-2 run. Haylee Barker had a three pointer and two free throws, Kenzie Barta had a free throw, Maddie Tharp scored a bucket and Allie Schmidt put MG up 35-34 with 6:50 left. Champlin Park regained a 36-35 lead and Tharp answered with another field goal to put MG up 37-36 with 4:40 left.
But that’s when the Crimson offense hit the wall and managed just three points the rest of the way. The Rebels were not shooting the lights out exactly but they made more shots. CP guard Sydney Hilley converted a game-changing three-point play with 2:55 left to put CP up 39-37. The Crimson could not make up the difference. They had several wide-open threes but the ball would not drop and they suffered a frustrating loss.
“I thought we played a tremendous defensive game but we struggled to get key shots to fall at key times,” Maple Grove coach Mark Cook said.
The Rebels were tough on defense as Maple Grove did not have a player in double figures. Barker led with nine, Schmidt eight, and Barta and Kaela Jones each with six.
“Hats off to Champlin Park. I thought their kids played really well and gave us some issues with their pressure,” Cook said. “It was really a game that very easily could have gone either way. I am very proud of our effort. Our kids left everything they had on that floor and that is all you could ask as a coach.”
It was a disappointing loss to end the season but Cook felt this team worked hard and improved throughout the season.
“This was a very special group of kids. I am super lucky to have had the opportunity to coach them,” Cook said. “We said at the beginning that we wanted to be playing our best basketball at the end and I think we did that. I want to especially thank our seniors and their families. We were blessed to have three great seniors in Kaela Jones, Cora Bourboanis and Allie Winter on our roster this season. They were tremendous role models and leaders. The Winters, Bourbonais, and Jones have each put two kids through this program now and have been a part of Maple Grove basketball for the past eight, nine years. I am forever grateful for all they have done to support Maple Grove girls’ basketball.”
The future looks bright for the Crimson. They return talented underclass players in Barta, Barker, Schmidt, Tharp, Mary Eckberg and junior Julie Hagert, who missed most of the season because of injuries.
“I am very excited about the group we have coming back,” Cook said. “We had very successful teams at all levels of our program this season. We had an eighth grade team that was very successful at the youth level and won multiple state championships throughout their traveling years. That should give us a great group of kids who want to work hard this off season to continue to improve and who want to play basketball next season as a part of the Crimson Basketball family.”
Contact Bob San at [email protected]