Champlin Park Impressive In Opening Win
The Champlin Park Rebels rolled over St. Francis 90-47 in their opening game of the 103rd annual State Boys Basketball Tournament on Wednesday and showed why they are unbeaten on the season.
The Class AAAA top seed had the game at running time with over eight minutes to go. I talked to several coaches who enjoyed watching the Rebels as much as I did. They share the ball so well, averaging over 20 assists a game. They were only credited with nine assists in their win over the Fighting Saints, but I think they may have been shortchanged a little.
Their leader is 6-foot-3 senior guard J.T. Gibson. Coming into the tournament, Gibson averaged more than 18 points a game, but was a facilitator in the opening win. The future University of Nebraska-Omaha player collected nine points, eight rebounds and six assists, according to the official stats. His coach noted the team statisticians credited him with eight assists.
St. Francis traded baskets early in the game, beating the man defense with repeated layups. After a time-out, Champlin Park switched to a 1-3-1 zone and then mixed their defenses the rest of the way. The Rebels led 52-23 at the half.
The Fighting Saints were giving up an average of 58 points a game coming into the contest. Champlin Park shot a blistering 65 percent from the field in the first half, including six of 12 shooting from behind the three-point line. For the game, with mostly reserves playing the final eight minutes, they shot 54 percent. St. Francis shot 33 percent and was one of 13 from three-point range.
The Rebels out rebounded the Fighting Saints 40-27. Sophomore post Theo John, 6-foot-8, had nine rebounds and seven points. Six-foot sophomore Mckinley Wright had 17 points, 6-foot-4 senior Jeremy Johnson collected 17 points in 20 minutes, and 6-foot-3 junior Aaron Kloeppner came off the bench to contribute 12.
St. Francis was led by their season-leading scorer, Blake Moreno, with 17. The bulk of his points came in the second half, when the game was already decided. Moreno was the only player for St. Francis in double figures. The Fighting Saints end their season 21-9 and the 30-0 Rebels will play the Shakopee Sabers in semifinal action Thursday at 6 p.m.
Shakopee's Steffon Mitchell erased a nightmarish first half where he scored two points and finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in a 64-53 win over the Roseville Area Raiders. The Raiders led at the half 25-22. All-time leading Roseville scorer Kobe Critchley finished with 19 points on seven of 21 shooting from the field including one of seven from three-point range. The NBA three-point line has clearly influenced many of the players to step outside their normal range. The Raiders out rebounded Shakopee 41-36. Roseville Area finishes their season with a 24-6 record and the Sabers are 23-7. Shakopee is one of three South Suburban Conference teams in the semifinals of Class AAAA. Apple Valley and Lakeville North are the others.