Champlin Park’s Dylan Gichaba (right) goes for a layup in the second half Thursday night. Gichaba had 18 points in the Rebels' 75-65 home victory over the Eagles. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
Prior to Thursday’s game, Champlin Park coach Mark Tuchscherer was honored with a game ball as the school celebrated his 300th win, which came Feb. 5 when the Rebels defeated Blaine.
How Tuchscherer’s squad performed against Totino-Grace Thursday is a prime example of how the coach and his teams have prospered in his 15 seasons. Led by a veteran attack, Champlin Park passed its toughest test of the season thus far with a 75-65 home defeat of Totino-Grace, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by Minnesota Basketball News.
Looking at Tuchscherer’s win total, it’s easy to point to his success. His team most recently made Class 4A state tournament appearances in 2017 and 2015 before that, and produced players such as McKinley Wright. The 2017 Mr. Basketball is in his senior year at the University of Colorado Boulder and has been named first-team All-Pac 12 conference each of the past two seasons.
“It’s all about the boys and the community,” Tuchscherer said. “These boys have decided to stay home and play for Champlin Park all these years. The players have just been outstanding. Every day has been special with the boys of Champlin Park.”
At first glance, this year’s No. 1-4A Rebels look capable of matching success found by previous Champlin Park squads, as they're off to a perfect start this winter. Prior to Thursday, the Rebels (9-0) had an easy start to the season, outscoring their opponents by just over 20 points a game.
Things didn’t look like they’d come quite that easy for Champlin Park early on Thursday. The Rebels battled with Totino-Grace (7-2) and grabbed the lead, thanks in part to senior forward Francis Nwaokorie, who had 10 points in the first half.
At 6-foot-7, the University of California San Diego commit is a force in the front court against any opponent. His size and physicality was on display against the Eagles, as the senior posted 16 points and 15 rebounds.
“Francis draws double teams and triple teams every game,” said Champlin Park senior guard Dylan Gichaba. “As long as we space the floor and cut off of him, we should be all right.”
The Rebels’ Francis Nwaokorie (left), who had 16 points in the game Thursday, drives for the basket in the Rebel’s 75-65 defeat of the Eagles at home to remain undefeated. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner SportsEngine
Champlin Park’s seniors stepped up when it counted in one of their team’s biggest games of the season thus far. Three Rebel seniors scored in double figures on Thursday, helping propel Champlin Park past Northwest Suburban Conference foe Totino-Grace 75-65 at Champlin Park High School.
In the first half, the Rebels, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, relied on their front court to produce offense in the form of senior forward Francis Nwaokorie. The University of California San Diego commit had 10 points in the first half and finished with a double-double, as he poured in 16 points to go along with 15 rebounds.
Champlin Park senior guard Dylan Gichaba found the scoring touch following a two-point first half, adding 16 points in the latter half to help the Rebels (9-0) stay unbeaten and atop the Northwest Suburban’s North Division.
The Rebels also received a double-digit contribution from senior guard Joshua Strong, who had 16 points.
The No. 2-3A Eagles came in with just one loss on the season and a first-place spot in the conference’s West Division, but they couldn’t overcome their Class 4A opponent.
Totino-Grace (7-2) got a team-high 13 points from Taison Chatman and 12 points from Patrick Bath. The Eagles also got 11 points from Demarion Watson and CJ O’Hara chipped in 10 points.
The Eagles’ Demarion Watson goes up for a slam dunk in the first half Thursday. The Eagles fell to the rival Rebels 75-65 at Champlin Park. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
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