Osseo vs. Champlin Park

7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9

Osseo has been awaiting this game since March 17, 2017. The Orioles lost 79-74 in the Section 5 final that night to eventual Class 4A runner-up Champlin Park.

The two squads have had markedly different success this season thus far, but this matchup will still be a quality measure for each, as well as a preview for a potential section matchup. 

The Orioles' two losses have come by a combined six points, but it was at this same stretch of the schedule last season that they lost three of four, including a 17-point drubbing at the hands of the Rebels.

If Osseo (6-2, 3-0) wants to avoid a similar losing run this season, it will have to rely on the experience of returning players, including seniors Zach Theisen (21.9 ppg) and Emmette Paige (17.4 ppg). 

After Champlin Park's undefeated season was marred in the state championship game a year ago, almost anything short of perfections would constitute a downturn for the team.

Considering the Rebels are 5-3 overall and 3-0 in Northwest Suburban Conference play after losing their top four scorers from last season, including Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year McKinley Wright and All-Metro second team forward Theo John, the season should be considered a success. Josiah Strong has stepped up magnificently, increasing his points per game from 9.7 last season to 21.9 this season.

After opening the season with losses against Minnetonka and Hopkins, Champlin Park has lost only to No. 1-2A Minnehaha Academy on Dec. 29.

Since then, the Rebels have convincingly won three in a row and will view this Osseo matchup as a proving ground for a new-look squad with ambition — and showing they aren't just a team that is playing well, but one that has the quality to make another deep run into the state tournament.