The goals were realistic and now, after beating Wayzata 76-63 in the Class 4A, Section 5 final, they are that much closer to being realized.
When the season began, the Champlin Park boys' basketball team didn't mess around with one-game-at-a-time nonsense. For the talented Rebels, the talk all season has been about being undefeated state champions.
"We set our own goals," senior guard Marty Hill said. "When you set your goals high, you shoot high and your work that much harder to reach them."
For the senior core of this team, this goal was set years ago, while winning youth basketball tournaments together.
"We always felt like, if we could win those championships, why can't it carry over to high school?" Hill recalled.
With their focus squarely on the big prize at the end of the season, Champlin Park blitzed Wayzata from the outset. The Rebels pressured the Trojans — upset winners over Maple Grove in Tuesday's semifinals — on the perimeter. It worked out as they hoped — Wayzata missed its first 14 shots.
Playing in one of the biggest games of their lives, the Rebels weren't particularly sharp but they didn't need to be. Behind four three-pointers from guard J.T. Gibson, who finished with 21 points, Champlin Park led 31-24 at halftime. That was as close as Wayzata would get.
In the second half, Champlin Park's sophomore star in the making, 6-8 forward Theo John, took over. He dominated the lane, scoring 14 of his 18 points after halftime, punctuated with four resounding dunks.
"This team is driven," Rebels coach Mark Tuchscherer said, shaking his head. "They've talked about winning a state championship and going undefeated since day one. They put the pressure on themselves. I've never had a team do that before. They don't just want to win. They want to be one of the best ever."