Its annual first Tuesday of February is screwed up schedule, so we get conference games in the NW Suburban on a Monday night. This one takes me to Park Center for my first look of the season at the Pirates as they take on Champlin Park. Now Park Center is known for their pep band (not in the house tonight, so sad) and usually quality pizza. But they have Walking Tacos, WOO HOO! Haven't had one of those in a long while and I may hit that 3 straight nights with Hopkins and Totino-Grace coming up the next 2 nights. A little salsa for kick and a healthy dollup of sour cream to soothe it, good stuff. For music, let's go with a 1 hit wonder since Park Center was looking to get in the way of Champlin Park's conference title run.
Song of the Day
Break My Stride - Matthew Wilder
First 4 of the game go to Park Center with a Kevin Handy reverse layup on the post. 10-7 Park Center at the 11:30 mark after a Rebels tip in. Then 7 in a row from the Pirates with Handy on the post again and a Quinton Hooker spin move for 2. That gives Park Center an 18-7 lead but coach Bo Powell bails Champlin out with the timeout they desperately needed. But with nothing going in what do you say? The timeout appears to kill the momentum as Champlin gets the next 2 buckets. Showing that I know NOTHING, Handy and Treyton Daniels score again and Terrance Elmore buries a 3 for 7 more in a row for Park Center. 15-4 is the total run. 25-11 late in the half before Champlin rebounds with the last 4. 25-15 Park Center at halftime.
Second half has TJ Okafor on a mission. He opens the second half with 2 putbacks and shows some range with a 3 all in the 1st 2 minutes. 27-24 Park Center. Champlin Park finally gets the game to even on a free throw at the 13:08 mark. 29 all. The shooting in this one not something that going to make a highlight reel. Okafor makes 2 free throws and Champlin Park goes 2-3 zone down 32-31 with 12+ left. Park Center promptly extends the offense. The Rebels try a possession of 1-3-1 and go back to 2-3. Once again Park Center wants nothing to do with the zone and CP immediately comes out it outside of 9 minutes left. Kevin Handy with 3 fouls and getting a surprisingly long rest before he comes back in with 8 minutes left. That's after a Hooker bucket for a 36-35 lead. Michael Sales 2 free throws and then off a Pirates turnover, Okafor gets out and runs his way to a 2 handed dunk. 39-36 Champlin Park with 6:42 left and they return the earlier favor with a timeout. Teddy Gibson with a steal to push the lead to 5. But the foul like for Rebels was a struggle all night and they miss their next 4. Isaiah Lynn with a pair of buckets along with Handy inside for a 7-2 spurt. 43-41 Park Center with 4 minutes left. Okafor right back with a good spin move to tie it. The teams trade 1 free throw before Okafor goes up and gets a man's rebound on the defensive end. That's 2 more free throws, 46-44 Champlin Park with 2:43 left. Out of a timeout, they're back to the 2-3 zone and with the lead Park Center now has to play against it. That's the danger of pulling it out early. Handy misses and Anthony Hill goes to the floater driving right baseline to push the lead to 4. Hooker in and out for 3 but the Rebels miss 2 free throws on the other end. Gibson with another steal for 1 free throw with 55.1 left. That's a 5 point lead and Okafor adds 3 of 4 free throws to seal it. 54-47 Champlin Park wins.
For Park Center, Kevin Handy with 8 of his 13 in the first half where he outplayed Okafor inside. Star guard Quinton Hooker 9 of his 11 in the second half. I was surprised Handy didn't get more looks in the second half since he was the best first half offense they had. With an off night from Hooker, they'll struggle to score. The Pirates fall to 5-11, 4-7 and have Maple Grove, Armstrong and Osseo in their next 3 games, ouch.
For Champlin Park, they outscore Park Center 39-22 in the second half. TJ Okafor finishes with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. 20 and 9 and all 3 blocks in the 2nd half as he flipped the switch and took over. Anthony Hill 10 of his 14 in the 2nd half. Take out Okafor's 7-8 FTs and the rest of the team was 8-23 from the charity stripe. The Rebels stay 1 game behind in the NW Suburban standings. They visit section foe Spring Lake Park on Saturday before hosting Maple Grove on Tuesday.