Bloomington Kennedy gave Eastview's girls' basketball team its only loss this season. But the No. 1-ranked Lightning can get payback on the biggest stage.
The teams will meet at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Class 4A championship game at Williams Arena. Eastview (30-1) fell to the Eagles 73-60 on Feb. 14.
Eastview got there by earning the survivors tag twice in as many state tournament games. Eastview outlasted No. 3 Eden Prairie for a 62-51 victory in Thursday's Class 4A state tournament semifinals.
No. 2 Bloomington Kennedy beat Lakeville North 61-51 in the second semifinal game.
Eastview did not go ahead of Eden Prairie (19-10) to stay until less than five minutes remained in the game. The Lightning also trailed St. Paul Central in the second half of Tuesday's quarterfinal game.
Eden Prairie's defense shadowed Eastview standout Madison Guebert throughout and trapped her before halfcourt several times. Guebert finished with five turnovers, one assist and one field goal. Ten of her 12 points came from the free-throw line, and all of them came in the second half.
Guebert finished well below her season average of 21.9 points per game. But three of the Lightning's five starters, Emee Udo (17 points), Kari Opatz (15) and Erika Schlosser (nine), scored above their season averages to pick up the slack.
Eastview coach Melissa Guebert, a former Miss Basketball winner, said she sensed her daughter's frustration.
"But I think what it showed her and her teammates is that even when that's happening, that's why you have four other kids on the floor," Melissa Guebert said. "What bigger game to pull through than that?"
More than half of Eastview's 62 points came on 33 made free throws, a fact not lost on Eden Prairie coach Chris Carr. He scanned the game's final statistical sheet in disbelief.
"Forty-four free throw attempts in a high school game," said Carr, whose Eagles made 12 of their 16 free throw attempts. "I mean, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant aren't playing. My goodness. That's just crazy."
The Eagles, led by a game-high 22 points from Emma Boehm, "put ourselves in position to win and that's all I could ask from my girls," Carr said.
Runner-up last year pushing for title again
Bloomington Kennedy 61, Lakeville North 51: After beating Eastview in the regular season, Bloomington Kennedy (25-6) senior guard Kenisha Bell set her sights on another meeting in the state tournament.
"They were undefeated and we were the team that beat them so I was like, 'We deserve to be there with them.'"
And here the Eagles are, focused on a high-stakes rematch and a better ending to their season. They took runner-up a year ago and are hungry to take the final step.
Beating unseeded Lakeville North (21-10) in Thursday's semifinal required a better second half. MacKenzie Denk (17 points) and Temi Carda (10) kept the Panthers competitive.
"They are on a roll and they had confidence," Eagles coach Quintin Johnson said of Lakeville North. "They came to play."
The Eagles, who beat North twice in the regular season by an average of 21.5 points, turned a close halftime score into a more comfortable cushion on the strength of a 10-0 run.
Tonoia Wade (19 points) and Bell (18) led the Eagles in scoring. Lasha Wright-Ponder and Isieoma Odor chipped in a combined 22 points.