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Boys' Basketball: Eagles defeat Park on second half run

Senior forward Brendan Beaulieu of Park goes up for one of two slams in the second half against the New Life Academy Eagles. (Photo by John Molene)1 / 5
Jaxson Kavanagh of the Eagles drives to the basket against Park's Brandon Alt in the second half Saturday afternoon. (Photo by John Molene)2 / 5
New Life Academy's Kyle Kaemingk (21) and Drew Wynia (34) battle for a defensive rebound in the first half of the Eagles' 66-50 win over visiting Park Saturday afternoon. (Photo by John Molene)3 / 5
Park's Brandon Alt splits the New Life Academy defense in the first half. (Photo by John Molene)4 / 5
Charlie Gorres of the Wolfpack (22) breaks free under the basket and starts to go up for a shot against New Life Academy Saturday afternoon. (Photo by John Molene)5 / 5

Too much New Life Academy talent and too short a turnaround combined to do in the Park boys’ basketball team on Saturday afternoon.

New Life raced away from a 38-33 halftime lead to a 66-50 win over the Wolfpack in a first-ever boys basketball meeting between the two schools.

“I thought that we really played tough when we had to,” New Life Academy head coach Doug Linton said. “This is a physical challenge; they’re a physical team, athletic. So we had to come out and take the challenge on, and I think we did. We handled it well. We had a couple of bad stretches in the first half where we got a little sloppy, a little loose and they made some runs and got back into it.

“But the second half we closed them out nicely,” Linton added.  “Defensively, we did well. We dominated the boards, I thought. They hardly got any offensive rebounds, and that got us out running again, which we need to do. We got some opportunities and took care of the ball, and that’s the best recipe for success. When you play good defense, rebound and execute, you’re doing pretty well. It was fun to see that.”

The game was played some 19 hours after Park’s 55-35 win over Stillwater Friday evening, and by the second half one could tell the Wolfpack were running out of gas.

Shots started falling short, and the Park players struggled to keep up with New Life’s break in the second half.

“We knew it was going to be tough coming in after a conference game on Friday night to play Saturday afternoon,” Park head coach Ed Cassidy said. “Not a lot of turnaround time to get rested up or prepare for them. And I thought our kids played hard, we just kind of ran out of gas there.

“And their big kid in there was a dominant force,’ Cassidy continued. “We didn’t really have an answer for him. He owned the boards. He wore us out, basically. And then we tried to give help and then, of course, their shooters knocked them down and made us pay the price for that. It was a well-deserved win for them.”

The Eagles went on 11-0 run in the second half, effectively getting out and running to break away from a 47-46 lead with 11:30 left to a 58-46 advantage with 7:44 to play. Park never could close the gap after that.

“We tried to run it (the break) because we knew they had a couple of big guys," New Life Academy senior Adam Busch said. "So we tried to run as much fast break, and then if they got back, we could just set it up."

Forward Kyle Kaemingk scored 23 to pace the Eagles offensively. Chris Ketema scored 13, and Drew Wynia added a dozen.

Senior forward Brendan Beaulieu led Park with 13 points, including two thunderous dunks in the second half. Brandon Alt and Charlie Gorres had nine points each.

New Life improved to 16-2 on the season.  The Eagles have just four games left in the regular season, starting with a matchup at Trinity School at River Ridge Tuesday.

Park (6-11, 1-8) returns to Suburban East Conference play with a home game against Mounds View (6-10, 3-6) Tuesday.