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Class 1A state quarterfinal: New Life Academy wins battle of Eagles

By Heather Rule, 03/24/22, 11:30AM CDT


Woodbury school advances past East Grand Forks Sacred Heart thanks to 11-0 second-half run.

Sacred Heart forward Sam Gapp (0) dribbles past New Life Academy forward Maxwell Briggs (1) during their Class 1A quarterfinal game Wednesday at Williams Arena. (Alex Kormann, Star Tribune)

New Life Academy coach Robbie Whitney reminded his New Life Academy squad that they’re a second-half team who can make a scoring run. But so, too, could opponent Sacred Heart. 

“How do we respond?” Whitney said. “That’s been our motto this whole year is: How do we respond to adversity? How do we respond to runs?”

Quite well, it turned out. The No. 3-seed New Life Academy Eagles defeated the Sacred Heart Eagles 64-58 Wednesday in the last Class 1A quarterfinal of the day at Williams Arena. New Life Academy (27-3) will face Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in Friday’s semifinals.

Sacred Heart tied the game at 42 in the second half with a 10-0 run. But New Life’s response was a timeout, and then its own run — 11-0 — to get back the lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“For me, especially, I just needed to take a couple deep breaths,” New Life Academy junior Maxwell Briggs. “I think I threw two turnovers (bad passes) right before they hit those couple of threes.”

Senior Kollin Kaemingk, who scored 20 points, spoke up: “I did, too.”

But New Life Academy was “ready to go” after that timeout, Briggs said.

Sacred Heart (28-4) has been in close games all season and finished strong Wednesday, coach Destry Sterkel said. Senior Kobe Tomkinson led Sacred Heart with 18 points.

“You’ve given those extra efforts to get there, and then tie it up,” Tomkinson said. “And they inch ahead. So that’s always going to be tough.”

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