If the old saying is true that history is written by victors, then three top north metro boys’ basketball programs will have to settle for being 2015 state tournament footnotes.
Champlin Park, Maranatha Christian Academy and St. Francis fell short of their ultimate goals. Putting themselves in position to succeed, however, should warrant a place in fans’ minds.
St. Francis fell in the Class 4A quarterfinals to Champlin Park as coach Mark Tuchscherer got the better of former Concordia Moorhead basketball teammate Ryan Hauge. Just reaching the tournament was huge for the Saints, who made a return trip despite losing 11 seniors.
Champlin Park, the tournament’s top seed, beat St. Francis and extended its undefeated season all the way to the title game against Apple Valley. The Rebels, buoyed by their student section more than 1,000 voices strong, were aiming to become the first perfect team in Class 4A since the 2009 Hopkins juggernaut.
A deep and talented lineup featured senior guard J.T. Gibson, the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year. Sophomore forward Theo John developed into a shot-blocking menace inside. And guards Marty Hill, Jeremy Johnson and McKinley Wright were capable of taking over a game. The trio combined for 51 points in the championship game.
Champlin Park and Apple Valley tied at 33-33 early in the second half but the Eagles pulled away. The Rebels never mounted a decisive run when it counted and ended the season 31-1. Players kept the disappointment in perspective.
“We’re not going to hang our heads,” Johnson said. “We ended up 31-1. That’s the best season this school has ever had. We’re going out right now to celebrate our season.”
In Class 1A, Maranatha Christian Academy, in Brooklyn Park, sought to win its first boys’ basketball championship. The Mustangs reached the title game but fell to No. 1 Rushford-Peterson, their second runner-up finish in three years.
The loss marked the end of an era. Senior forward Jeremiah Hanson was the last of eight brothers to play for the Mustangs.