Theo John wasn't particularly happy with his performance in Wednesday's Class 4A boys' basketball quarterfinal. He made up his mind that Thursday would be different.
Champlin Park's 6-8 center was the difference-maker from the outset, with 18 points, 10 rebounds, six blocked shots and at least twice that many times intimidated shooters as the Rebels defeated Wayzata 70-62 in the 4A semifinals at Target Center.
"I was told by this team to dominate," John said. "There was no one in the post who could guard me and I knew if I started going off, it would open things up for the shooters."
Space eventually opened up, but it took a bit longer than expected. Wayzata's constant motion and tightly packed defense had the Trojans thinking upset. With the game tied 53-53 with 4 minutes, 2 seconds left, Champlin Park (31-0) went on a game-defining 14-3 run, bolstered by two three-pointers from Brian Smith and another from Josiah Strong.
"Our boys just kept with it," Rebels coach Mark Tuchscherer said. "The TV timeouts are not something we're used to. It takes away from those long runs we like. This team just stuck with it."
Wayzata looked unbeatable early, making its first four shots, three of them three-pointers, to take an 11-0 lead.
"We talked to each other and said we've got to get going," said Rebels guard McKinley Wright, who finished with 19 points.
"We thought we were going to win," Wayzata coach Bryan Schnettler said. "We believed and that's why we started out the way we did."
One more victory and Champlin Park can soothe the lingering pain from a loss to Apple Valley in the 2015 title game and win the first team state championship in school history.
"Coach brings the second-place trophy to every practice to remind us of what happened," Wright said.