The last time Park Center beat Champlin Park, the Pirates ended up in the Class 4A state championship game. That was in 2013.
The Pirates haven’t been back to the state tournament and have lost six consecutive games to the Rebels since. The No. 3-4A Pirates, who have state tournament aspirations this season, get an opportunity to end the Rebels' streak on Thursday.
Park Center, which owned the No. 1 spot in the Class 4A poll for several weeks earlier this season, has a formidable lineup, led by 6-10 junior Dain Dainja (16.0 ppg), Tommy Chatman (14.8 ppg) and Detavius Frierson (14.2 ppg).
The Pirates (15-1, 6-1) lost their No. 1 ranking after falling to Robbinsdale Armstrong 62-56 on Jan. 8. Since then, Park Center has won six in a row, including victories over No. 7-4A Wayzata (72-64 on Jan. 16) and heated rival Osseo (60-59 last Friday).
But ending Champlin Park's recent dominance won't be easy. The Rebels (12-4, 7-0) employ one of the best all-around players in the north metro in 6-4 senior guard Bennett Otto, who averages 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game. He’s joined by teammates Jacob Johnson (15.4 points and 2.4 assists per game) and Francis Nwaokorie (8.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game). The Rebels have won three in a row since losing 80-67 at No. 9-4A Eden Prairie on Jan. 17.