New Life Academy coach Robbie Whitney needed to change the tempo. He got exactly what he wanted following halftime.
The Eagles used a 14-point run to break open a close game and roll to a 51-35 victory over Spring Grove in the semifinals of the Class 1A boys basketball state tournament Friday at Target Center.
"We talked about dictating pace at halftime," Whitney said. "We had to speed it up. That was big for us."
Senior forward Austin Woolf scored seven consecutive points midway through the run. He finished with 13 points.
The No. 3-ranked Eagles (26-5) were clinging to a 27-25 lead with 12 minutes, 37 seconds remaining when junior guard John Kirschling ignited the spurt with a three-pointer. He wound up with 10 points.
"We sped them up [with a full-court press]," said Eagles senior guard Maxwell Briggs, who had six steals and four assists.
The score was tied 18-18 after a sluggish first half.
"That first half was some ugly basketball," said Whitney, whose team shot 33 percent and turned the ball over 12 times in the opening half.
Senior forward Erick Reader, who will walk on for the Gophers, had a double-double (11 points and 15 rebounds) for the Eagles, who had a 41-21 rebounding advantage.
Junior forward Jaxon Strinmoen scored a game-high 15 points for the No. 7 Lions (30-2).