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Down eight-to-zip in the first 5 minutes isn’t an ideal start for any team, but Champlin Park came back strong, finishing the first half on a dominating run en route to a 77-57 triumph over Park Center.
“We faced difficulties in the first half,” said JT Gibson, who helped the Rebels finish the first half on a 44-15 run. “We’ve never been down, except to Hopkins, so I was glad to see us overcome that.”
The No. 3-ranked Rebels (14-1) stretched their win streak to 13 games with Tuesday's win at Park Center Senior High School. Champlin Park's scoring was well-distributed, as six players that scored at least nine points.
“We take pride in spreading the ball around,” Rebels coach Mark Tuchscherer said. “We force teams to decide who they want to try to stop, and hopefully other guys are able to step up and hit shots.”
Both teams played physical in the opening minutes, drawing plenty of fouls. Things began to open up for the Rebels as they got hot from outside. Gibson fed Marty Hill and Alex Hilley beyond the arc, as the duo sank five treys in the opening half. Gibson jumped on the Pirates' turnovers, sinking half his points on fast breaks.
“JT has played well this season, he’s been very aggressive on offense and defense,” Tuchscherer said about his junior guard. “He’s one of our leaders, he’s been around since ninth grade on the varsity.”
Park Center’s Elijah Wright scored a game-high 16 points. Alex Hilley and Northern State-commit Ian Smith led the Rebels with 12 points. Smith shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
“I think we need to keep playing hard,” Gibson said. “Never be satisfied by our wins, and keep showing up to practice and getting better.”