Can a basketball game be decided in 10 seconds? Of course it can, but usually it is the last 10 seconds when the proverbial nail-biter is finalized. But what if that 10-second stretch occurs with five minutes remaining on the…
Can a basketball game be decided in 10 seconds? Of course it can, but usually it is the last 10 seconds when the proverbial nail-biter is finalized. But what if that 10-second stretch occurs with five minutes remaining on the clock? That is what happened Friday afternoon at the Park Center holiday tournament as one fateful sequence essentially determined the outcome in the Champlin Park Rebels 66-57 upset of Cretin-Derham Hall.
With seven minutes left in the game, Autam Mendez buried a corner trey to give CDH a three-point lead, which became two after a Rebels' free throw. Then it happened. That fateful 10 seconds. Champlin tied the score at 44 at the 5:15 mark. Ten seconds later, Cretin turned the ball over on the inbound and Champlin scored again to take the lead. A time out was immediately called, and a Cretin player tossed the ball back to the official and headed for the bench. What happened next stunned everyone in the building, as Cretin was whistled for a technical foul.
Trust me when I say that nobody within eyesight of the court had any idea why. Champlin coach Josh Steck signaled to the official as if to say, 'Is it on us?' Cretin coach Joe Lynch looked at the official and pointed at himself as if to say, 'Is it on us?' The two other officials on the court looked at each other as if to say, 'What the…?' Apparently what happened was the official in question didn't like the way the Cretin player had passed him the ball. You can't make this stuff up.
Cretin was incredulous. The girls had only a minute to regroup, and when the Raiders returned to the court, it was obvious that they had not been able to do so. As senior point guard Erica Hicks calmly delivered the two freebies, Champlin secured a four-point lead they would never relinquish, controlling the game down the stretch and leaving the festivities with a victory. It was CDH's first loss to a Minnesota opponent. With a win last week over Centennial, this was Champlin Park's second decision in a week over a team in the top 10.
Rebels with a cause
There were signs from the outset that this might not be Cretin's day. On Thursday night, the Raiders had come back from a 12-point deficit to defeat a pesky Park Center squad by three. Cretin's sensational junior Frannie Hottinger – she is averaging 20 points per game and has been nothing short of brilliant – was charged with two fouls in the game's first three minutes. That earned her a prime view from the sidelines and put the Raiders on their heels. Throughout the first half, Cretin missed a number of shots at the rim, failed to protect the ball, and just generally looked out of sorts. CDH did have success on the fast break, however, as sophomore guard Sydney Jackson came off the bench and provided a shot of energy. Champlin, on the other hand, looked like the elite team that they can certainly be. It was a two-point game at the half. In the second… well you already know what happened.
On the whole this contest demonstrated that Champlin Park's cast of characters has made the Rebels a team to be reckoned with. Hicks is a senior point guard, a savvy veteran with a high basketball IQ, who is averaging nearly 21 ppg. She runs the Rebels' show. Hicks has not made a college commitment yet, at least not as far as we know. Her fellow seniors Amanda Pollard and Gabby Mocchi are both headed for D1. Pollard (13.6 ppg) had a brilliant summer with the Minnesota Metro Stars, building confidence, vaulting herself into top 50 territory, and earning an opportunity at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. Mocchi is a big, strong power forward who averages 11 points per game and has signed with Montana State of the Big Sky Conference. Champlin's elite three are surrounded by a nice supporting class that includes senior Megan Munneke, sophomore Izzy Quick, and junior Makayla Johnson.
The Rebels are now 7-2. They entered the week ranked #11 in the Northstar Girls Hoops 4A poll, but after knocking off #5 CDH they will surely crack the top 10 on Monday. How the loss affects the Raiders will be a big question waiting for an answer. Last year CDH started the season on a 9-2 run before losing five in a row. Let's hope this year is different.