Boys Basketball: East Ridge wins home opener over North St. Paul
East Ridge 97, North St. Paul 59
East Ridge started off the game with a layup from Courtney Brown Jr., a 3-pointer by Patrick Lynott and a steal that went into a layup for Lynott.
After his layup, Lynott went back on defense and clapped his hands once. He, along with the rest of the team, knew they had the momentum for the rest of the game.
After a big win on Saturday against No. 2 Hopkins, the No. 1 ranked Raptors had their home opener on Wednesday night against North St. Paul. East Ridge had the control of the game from the very beginning as the Raptors dominated with a 97-59 win over the Polars.
"We started out setting the pace, which is something we weren't able to do against Hopkins," said head coach Bryce Tesdahl. "We had that in our game plan and were able to execute, which was good to see."
By halftime, East Ridge had a 50-32 lead over North and it was due to the help of a number of players. Then, the second half was just the same as the Raptors outscored the Polars 47-27 to win the game.
There were four players that reached double digits in points for East Ridge, but Ben Carlson led the team with 24 points. Brown Jr. was right behind him with 18 points of his own.
Lynott finished the night with 11 points, while Zach Zebrowski ended the game with 10 points.
"We knew we had the height advantage against this team," Brown Jr. said. "So we wanted to create second-chance points and grab the offensive and defensive rebounds as much as we could."
The Raptors did just that and dominated the boards throughout the night and were able to continue passing the ball around to the open player.
The main things that Tesdahl saw that need improvement is free throws. He said he was happy with how many times East Ridge was fouled and sent to the line because it shows aggressive play in the paint.
The only problem was that the Raptors weren't able to convert on the free throws. Carlson said that improving free throws just takes more time in the gym and focusing on that one task.
"It was a good game for us because we were able to stick to our game plan," Carlson said. "Now, we just need to continue this momentum into Saturday against a good Prior Lake team."
The Raptors will be heading to Hopkins High School on Saturday, Dec. 8 as they play Prior Lake at 5:30 p.m.
Prior Lake is a familiar team as East Ridge has scrimmaged them a few times during the summer and just recently about a week and a half ago. It's not going to be an easy game for the Raptors, but the team is looking forward to the challenge.
"Prior Lake has some big forwards that can score and be physical for the rebounds," Carlson said. "We're just going to have to set a game plan to stop them and continue playing our type of basketball."
Brown Jr. added to Carlson's comments by saying the Raptors learned a lot from playing Hopkins and understands how to play some of the best forwards in the state. He knows it's not going to be an easy task, but they're ready for the opportunity.
Tesdahl said he's excited to head over to Hopkins this weekend and play in the tournament, especially against Prior Lake because it's a great team to prepare the Raptors heading into the conference season.
After this weekend, East Ridge will start its conference season as the Raptors host Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday, Dec. 14.
New Life Academy 67, Nova Classical Academy 61
New Life Academy's head coach Kory Kiekhoefer called a timeout with about eight minutes left in the game. He looked at the scoreboard before going into the huddle to talk to the players.
The scoreboard read: Nova Classical Academy 54, New Life Academy 43.
Once he got into the huddle, he told the Eagles four simple words to get them refocused and determined to win this game.
It's now or never.
Those were the only words that team needed to hear and as the Eagles walked back on the court, they looked ready to make a comeback.
New Life did some full-court pressure and made a few key turnovers to earn some points and three minutes later, Nova Classical was calling a timeout because the game was tied at 57-57.
The Eagles took control of the lead with two minutes left in the game and New Life never looked back. The Eagles won the game with a 67-61 final score.
"We never gave up and we kept fighting," said Konner Ware. "This is a big confidence boost for our team heading into tough conference games later on this month."
The stands at New Life Academy were screaming and clapping as the momentum shifted in the Eagles way towards the end of the game. As the final horn sounded, every fan got on their feet and applauded the effort that New Life showed to earn the victory.
At the beginning of the game, the Eagles found good openings to shoot, but weren't able to knock them down. Lucky for the Eagles that Nova Classical was having the same problem and it allowed New Life to take a 31-29 lead at the half.
Ware was a key player for New Life last night as he scored early and often. That was needed to get the Eagles rolling in the right direction.
Ware finished the game with 21 points and it was all smiles for Ware and Kiekhoefer after the game.
"Konner was really consistent tonight, which allowed him to get points on the board," Kiekhoefer said. "He was also crashing the boards every time, which allowed him to get a few extra points tonight."
Ware wasn't the only one to score double digits for the Eagles on Tuesday night. There were three others that scored for New Life.
Michael Reader had a big night as well with 15 points and he was always under the hoop grabbing offensive and defensive rebounds throughout the entire night. Caleb Wall and Kollin Kaemingk each scored 12 points to help the Eagles earn the victory.
This will be a confidence boost for the Eagles as they start of the season 1-0 and look forward to a good game at Concordia Academy on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
"Concordia Academy is a section game, so we just have to bring our best on Friday," Kiekhoefer said. "It'll be a good game and I'm looking forward to getting ready for it this week."
Hudson 79, Park 70
It was a close game between Hudson and Park, but Hudson finished on top with a 79-70 win on Tuesday night.
The Wolfpack had five players score for the team on Tuesday with four of them scoring in double digits. Domenik Block was the team leader with 24 points, while Charlie Gorres was just behind Block with 21 points.
Jeremiah Smith finished the night with 12 points and Milton Carnes ended with 10 points.
The Wolfpack has one more game this week as they prepare to travel to Hastings on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.