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Defense keys big win for New Life

New Life Academy's Evan Atkinson goes up for a layup in the second half of the Eagles 45-37 win over Concordia Academy Tuesday. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Senior forward Zach Thor of the Eagles goes up after a defensive rebound late in the first half Tuesday against Concordia Academy. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Senior forward Eli Gorter of New Life tries for a reverse layup in the second half Tuesday. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Mark Rygh of the Eagles jumps for a loose ball in the first half Tuesday against visiting Concordia Academy. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

WOODBURY — It wasn't the best win of the season for the New Life Eagles, but it was an important one.

New Life dispatched visiting Concordia Academy 45-37 Tuesday in the final regular-season home game of the season.

The Eagles rebounded from a 72-54 loss at Maranatha Christian Academy Saturday that snapped a seven-game winning streak.

The victory could also pay big dividends in the postseason as New Life ran its section record to a perfect 8-0. With one regular-season game to go, the Eagles are now in great shape for a top four seed in Section 4AA, and that would mean a double-bye for the first two rounds of section play.

New Life's defense keyed the victory. The rebounding and second-half outside shooting for the Eagles was less than optimal, but a win is a win is a win.

"Defense carried us tonight," said New Life coach Kory Kiekhoefer. "This is a huge game. This is a team that's fighting with us for seeding in sections. To hold a team like this to 37 and especially a team that shoots the ball like they do — that's huge for us. It was all about our communication. We harped on it all week leading up to this game and the boys came out and executed big time and communicated probably the best they've communicated all season."

New Life got off to a fast start and led 16-7 with 11:35 to play in the first half and 22-13 with six minutes to go in the period. The Eagles led 27-22 at the break.

Concordia Academy hung around however and trailed just 43-37 with a minute to play but could come no closer.

"It wasn't our typical game tonight," said Kiekhoefer. "We came out flying; we put 22 in the first half really, really quick. We got a lot of good inside touches, hit a couple from deep early. But I would absolutely agree. Our offense wasn't clicking on all cylinders. They really packed it in on us and forced us to shoot the ball and we'll definitely have to go back to the drawing board to make sure we're getting those inside touches."

New Life improved its record to 18-7.

Concordia Academy dropped to 15-10 on the season.

The 37 points allowed was the second fewest points given up in a game this season by the Eagles.

Senior center Drew Wynia had 14 points to lead New Life offensively. Eli Gorter scored eight, Zach Thor seven, while Evan Atkinson and Tate Hullett had six each.

The Eagles wrap up the regular season Friday with a game at St. Paul Academy (12-12).

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