In what could go down as to one of the best–if not the best–games of 2019, Sacred Heart and Minneapolis lit off some fireworks in Salina on Friday night.
The Knights had just a little more firepower in round-one between these two ranked teams, with a 77-72 win.
The back-and-forth affair started right out of the gates and both teams would trade leads in the first quarter, before Minneapolis grabbed a 19-14 lead at the end of the one.
The quarter went the way it had all year for the unbeaten and eighth-ranked team in class 3A. Scoring fast and often. Going in to the second, it felt like Minneapolis was right where it wanted to be.
However, the ninth-ranked team in 2A, Sacred Heart, was ready for the fight. The Knights’ Mark Prendergast owned the second quarter, as the Sacred Heart post man tallied up double-figures in the first half.
That’s when Minneapolis’ Nolan White began to heat up. The Junior, guard was doing his work from the free-throw line to start before he started knocking down some mid-range jumpers.
Minneapolis led 37-34 with just seconds before breaking for intermission when Sacred Heart’s Tate Herrenbruck hit a dagger 3-pointer in the corner to tie the game, 37-37 at halftime.
Sacred Heart used the momentum in the second half as the Knights would lead for the majority of the third quarter. However, the Lions and White, would see-saw back-and-forth with Sacred Heart for the lead all quarter.
Sacred Heart led 56-54 going in to the final stanza.
The Knights appeared to be ready to run away with the game, ahead 63-58 midway through the quarter. Minneapolis had gone cold shooting. That’s when the Lions turned to a Senior, guard who had his best game in his career in Derek Freel.
Freel would, in the span of one minute, steal three Sacred Heart passes and go in for tough, contested scores in fast break each time. With 3:58 left, the Lion deficit that was five, had been flipped to a one point lead, 64-63.
However, it was too much Herrenbruck on Friday night, as he was unconscious from the floor–both inside and outside the arc.
Sacred Heart surged to a 10 point lead with two minutes to go behind Herrenbruck. The Lions of Minneapolis battled back to make the Knights sweat down the stretch, but ultimately succumb to the powerful Knight offensive attack.
Minneapolis (5-1, 2-1 NCAA) will blame a fourth quarter in which it allowed 21 points. Minneapolis was led by White’s season-best 21 points. Freel also tallied in a season-best 12 points. Spencer Davidson added in 12, while Daniel Watson scored 10 for the Lions.
Sacred Heart (5-1, 2-0 NCAA) has now won five-straight on the year and 10 in-a-row over Minneapolis. Herrenbruck was two points shy of his career-high with a 30 point outburst on Friday. Prendergast had 14, Jacob Gormley scored 12 and Ethan Buckner finished with 10 points.
These two teams rematch on Feb. 7, 2020 at Minneapolis High School.
SACRED HEART GIRLS 52, Minneapolis 34
It was too much Amber Palen and the pressure of Sacred Heart for Minneapolis to overcome in the girls’ contest.
The Knights seized momentum early with an 18 point first quarter and led by nine points after one.
Sacred Heart’s defense forced 12 Minneapolis turnovers in the first half and held the Lady Lions to just two points in the second quarter to take a 28-11 halftime lead, before leading 41-22 after three and cruising to an 18 point win.
Palen led Sacred Heart (4-2, 2-0 NCAA) with 15 points on three 3-point makes. Hannah Goetz also put in 11 points for the Knights.
Minneapolis (2-4, 1-2 NCAA) never challenged in the game. The Lady Lions saw a season-best 11 points from Courtney Forte. Kersti Nelson scored 10 in a losing effort.
Both teams now break for the Christmas break before getting back to work in 2020. Minneapolis travels to Republic County on Jan. 3, while Sacred Heart also goes on the road to Little River on that same date.