There are student cheering sections. And then there is the Champlin Park “6th Man.”
The student supporters of the No. 1-ranked Rebels’ boys basketball team has taken the idea of a cheering section and run with it, so much so that they’ve developed fans of their own.
Their antics are hard to miss. Often more than 1,000 students strong (“We sold 1,500 tickets to students for the semifinals,” said Sam Goodman, one of the leaders of the 6th Man), they are always color-coordinated. Cheers are choreographed early. Some routines, like standing arm-in-arm, swaying back and forth and singing during the national anthem, are almost touching.
Others, like the newly created Curtain of Distraction — a black curtain is held up under the visiting basket when the opponent is shooting free throws and dropped just before a shot goes up, revealing something they hope will be a distraction — can raise eyebrows from more traditional fans. It’s all geared toward supporting their team.
“Last year, we created a PowerPoint and took it to the administration,” said senior Jack Darnell, a co-creator along with Goodman. “They loved it. They’ve been behind us the whole time.”
The 6th Man has its own Facebook page and Twitter account, @Cp6thMan, which has almost 800 followers.
“It’s really brought our school together,” Darnell said. “It’s just been crazy.”
Rushford-Peterson guard Cole Kingsley, who left Williams Arena on crutches Thursday after suffering a right ankle injury in the first half of the Trojans’ 105-58 victory over Fond du Lac Ojibwe, started and played all 36 minutes in the Class 1A championship game on Saturday. He played nine minutes in the 62-39 semifinal victory over Central Minnesota Christian.
“I kind of choked up,” Rushford-Peterson coach Tom Vix said. “[because of] Cole and all he did for us playing through the pain and his leadership.”
Vix, in his 30th season as Rushford-Peterson coach, became the ninth boys’ basketball coach in state history to surpass 600 career victories. The Trojans’ 51-44 victory over Maranatha Christian in the Class 1A championship on Saturday left Vix with a 620-212 career record.
Vix and Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. each have 15 state tournament appearances, tops among coaches.
Maranatha era ends
Next season, for the first time since 1999, Maranatha Christian will not have a Hanson in the lineup.
Jeremiah Hanson, the eighth of eight brothers to play for Maranatha, scored 21 points in the Class 1A championship game Saturday. Hanson, the school’s career leading scorer, finished with 2,373 points.
The loss to Rushford-Peterson left Wall, in his 33rd season as a high school coach, one victory shy of 600.