Rebels with a cause, and now a share of the conference championship
By Mark Genosky Champlin, MN.
The first time ChamplinPark and Centennial played in girls’ basketball this season, everyone was out of breath.This time, everyone was holding it.ChamplinPark rallied and held on to defeat Centennial and clinch at least a share of the Northwest Suburban Conference Championship Tuesday night.
“It was just a great win for our kids,” said ChamplinPark head coach Jonas Beugen.“Especially on Senior Night, our 6 seniors, I love them to death.They’ve worked their tails off for 4 years and they’ve earned it, and I love them, and it’s great for them.”
Things actually looked great for Centennial in the first half.Amanda Nygaard dropped in 15 points and led a Centennial defense that pressured the ball and did not give up many easy buckets.Junior forward Natalie Gigler is the main reason ChamplinPark stayed close, scoring 13 in the first half.She also passed the 1,000 point mark for her career.
“She (Gigler) had been out for 10 games with mono, and we had been slowly trying to bring her back, and she finally had a breakout game,” said Beugen.“That’s the type of player that she is, the way she played tonight, and that was the difference.”
Centennial was up 36-27 at the break, but there was no panic in the ChamplinPark locker room.
“That’s pretty much been our m-o all year,” Beugen said.“Lots of games we’re close at halftime, we’re behind at halftime, and we wait to put teams away.I think it’s a lot of the conditioning we do, that’s just been our m-o. We do not say anything magic, it just seems to be the way our girls operate.”
Champlin started the second half with a 6-0 run, and when Ashlynn Fuller hit a jumper with under seven minutes remaining, Champlin led 52-51.Nygaard tied the score at 60 with a three pointer with left, and then Mindy Schmidt came through for the Rebels.She grabbed a loose ball and scored with :90 seconds remaining to put Champlin up 64-62.She also made some free throws down the stretch as ChamplinPark won it 70-65.
Both teams came into the game tied for first in the conference at 14-2, but those are not the numbers people were talking about.Centennial beat ChamplinPark 116-93 back in January, setting the state record for the most combined points in a girls’ high school basketball game.Beugen knew they would not repeat the feat.
“It was just a different game.We played a different style, we zoned more, and we made it more half-court. It was just a different game.”
One that had ChamplinPark laughing and celebrating… once they exhaled.