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Champlin Park holds off late Eden Prairie surge to squeeze out win

By Luke Hanlon, SportsEngine, 02/15/18, 10:00AM CST

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The Rebels' Josiah Strong's 26-point, seven-assist effort helped keep Eagles' Austin Andrews at bay.

Josiah Strong (2) keeps an eye on the basket as he drives the lane. Strong led Champlin Park in scoring with 25 points steering them to a 86-83 win over Eden Prairie in a Class-4A top ten tilt. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Josiah Strong (2) keeps an eye on the basket as he drives the lane. Strong led Champlin Park in scoring with 25 points steering them to a 86-83 win over Eden Prairie in a Class-4A top ten tilt. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Basketball is often described as a game of runs.

That adage was on full display in Champlin Park’s (16-5) 86-83 win over Eden Prairie (16-6) on Thursday. The Rebels started the game white hot, draining threes, grabbing offensive boards and creating turnovers to jump out to a 22-point lead in the first half. But a 16-4 Eagles run before the break closed the gap to 10.

While the second half was tightly contested, the Rebels never gave up their lead.

“I think playing an opponent at the level of Eden Prairie…that’s great for us to prepare during the season,” Champlin Park coach Mark Tuchscherer said. “It’s really good for both teams to play in those types of games where it’s back-and-forth, a game of runs.”

Tuchscherer said Eden Prairie made good adjustments to get back in the game. He knew they weren’t going to fold after going down big, and the coach knew his offense couldn’t sustain the levels of success it had in the first 12 minutes.

“First half we shot really, really well, and that’s really tough for a team to do for an entire game, and Eden Prairie kind of took that and made a run of their own,” he said.

Champlin Park shooters were all over the floor, but Josiah Strong and Bennett Otto created their own shots when it mattered. As team captains, Tuchscherer described them as Champlin Park's “offensive leaders.”

Strong scored a team-high 26 points and Otto was right behind him with 23. They both shared the ball effectively as well: Strong had seven assists and Otto had five.

While the Rebels were led by their back court, the Eagles got most of their production down low from Austin Andrews, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who’s a couple inches shorter than the Rebels’ front court. But an elusive Andrews maneuvered through the paint en route to a game-high 34 points. He also had no issues with contact either, being sent to the free-throw line 13 times and making 10.

“He’s crafty. He’s not that traditional center. He can make moves that our 6-8 guys can’t really stick with, so we had to go small, and to his credit he played really well,” Tuchscherer said of Andrews’ performance.

With the end of the regular season on the horizon, Champlin Park is hoping this win over a tough nonconference opponent helps build momentum for a postseason run.

“That’s why I love our schedule,” Tuchscherer said. “I’m able to make the nonconference schedule, and scheduling a great team like Eden Prairie late in the season is an advantage for us ‘cause we’re able to play a great team and get prepared even more for the playoffs.”

 

Bennett Otto (22) crashes the net for two of his 23 points at Champlin Park High School on Thursday night. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Bennett Otto (22) crashes the net for two of his 23 points at Champlin Park High School on Thursday night. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

First Report

Champlin Park staved off a late Eden Prairie rally Thursday night at Champlin Park High School to hang on to win 86-83.

With less than five minutes left in the first half, the Rebels, ranked No. 9 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, led the Eagles 45-23. The Rebels (16-5) shot lights out from behind the arc, and the Eagles (16-6) struggled to stop the onslaught. While the Eagles spent the rest of the game fighting back, the Rebels never trailed.

Josiah Strong set the tempo early for Champlin Park, with 11 points and six assists at halftime. Strong, averaging 22.4 points per game, finished the night with 25 points.

The Rebels made few mistakes in the first half, turning missed shots into offensive rebounds and second chances.

The Eagles fought back to trail by 10 at the break. Led by forward Austin Andrews, who finished with 34 points, including 10 from the free-throw line, the Eagles focused on punishing the Rebels’ frontcourt.

Austin Andrews (33) scored a game high 34 points for the Eagles, nearly doubling his season average of 19 points per game. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Austin Andrews (33) scored a game high 34 points for the Eagles, nearly doubling his season average of 19 points per game. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Click photos to view the entire gallery from the game

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