Falls City Sacred Heart in position for third straight title with win over Sterling

LINCOLN — Falls City Sacred Heart coach Luke Santo won’t apply the word dynasty to his program. But after an explosive second half put the Irish in position to play for their third straight state title, they are one win away from seeing how the word wears.

After pulling away from No. 3 Sterling 48-27 in Friday’s Class D-2 semifinal, top-ranked Sacred Heart will play Wynot in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. state final at Pinnacle Bank Arena in search of its fourth championship in five seasons.

The Irish (25-3) saw their nine-point lead whittled to three when Sterling’s Carly Wenzl hit a 3-pointer to make it 25-22 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.

But Sacred Heart sophomore Danielle Bippes answered with a jumper on the next possession to start an 8-0 Sacred Heart run. She led Sacred Heart with 10 points.

“She’s a post player, but she’s only 5-8, so she’s a little undersized,” Santo said. “We try to put her in that 15-foot area, in that mid-corner. I think she hit some in the second quarter. Then we snuck her into the high post in the third quarter. She’s a really good shooter, got good touch.”

After Wenzl’s 3-pointer in the third, Sterling (22-6) wouldn’t hit another field goal until the Irish had built a 17-point lead. Ahren Ebel scored seven of her nine points in the fourth for Sacred Heart, and freshman Erison Vonderschmidt, the Irish’s leading scorer, also had nine.

So did McKenzie Witt, with six coming in the final period.

“That’s how they are, who they are, because of the fact they have, I don’t know how many they suited up — 14 girls? — that can just knock down shots,” Sterling coach Josh Pfeiffer said.

No. 3 Sterling (22-6)……….4 11 7 5 — 27

No. 1 FCSH (25-3)…………10 11 8 19 — 48

S: Colby Theis 11, Carly Wenzl 8, Ella Wingert 5, Morgan Haner 2, Malayna Wingert 1

FSCH: Danielle Bippes 10, McKenzie Witt 9, Ahren Ebel 9, Erison Vonderschmidt 8, Rachel Magdanz 7, Randee Witt 3, Emma Littrel 2

3-pointers help Wynot find edge in fourth quarter against BDS

LINCOLN — Ho hum, another Falls City Sacred Heart vs. Wynot championship game in D-2.

But sixth-ranked Wynot’s path to the title game, ensuring that one of the two would win the D-2 championship for the ninth straight year, was on unsteady legs through three quarters of Friday’s semifinal against No. 4 Bruning-Davenport/Shickley. Then the Blue Devils dominated the fourth en route to a 53-40 win.

Wynot hit 4 of 25 3-pointers through the first three quarters, but found life just before the end of the third, and kept the momentum with a pair of 3-pointers to open the fourth.

“We’re all a bunch of guards out there playing basketball so that’s kind of our game,” Wynot coach Steve Wieseler said. “But we were shooting a little too many early on. A little one pass and then shoot it. We had to calm down. Shooters hit them eventually.”

BDS (22-5) had erased Wynot’s 22-21 halftime lead with a 13-4 run to lead 38-33, but Wynot cut the deficit to 38-35 on Michaela Lange’s layin just before the third-quarter buzzer.

Then Wynot opened the fourth with back-to-back 3s from Autumn Lawson — her first made basket of the game — and Katelyn Heine.

“Eventually they’ve got to go in, right?” Wieseler said. “The girls that hit them are our two best shooters, so it was good to see them step up.”

The dam had broken. After a basket by Regan Alfs, who led the Eagles with a game-high 20 points, BDS wouldn’t score again. Wynot (21-6) scored the game’s final 12 points, milking the clock with a spread offense that put the brakes on an up-and-down pace that ruled the first three quarters.

BDS made 1 of 13 field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

Heine led the Blue Devils with 13 points, and now it’s a third try against Sacred Heart. The top-ranked Fighting Irish beat Wynot in the D-2 title game in 2017 and 2015.

Wynot (21-6)……….7 15 13 18—53

BDS (22-5)………….11 10 17 2—40

W: Katelyn Heine 13, Michaela Lange 12, Shaelee Planer 7, Autumn Lawson 5, Karley Heimes 5, Kaitlyn Heimes 4, Dharian Ahrens 3, Eden Sudbeck 2, Emerson Sudbeck 2

BDS: Regan Alfs 20, Macy Kamler 9, Jadyn Kleinschmidt 4, Kaylee Noel 3, Raegan Fiala 2, TaraLee Hudson 2.

UPDATED NSAA GIRLS STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKETS

D2 Championship: #1 Sacred Heart vs. #7 Wynot

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln

Radio: 103.1 FM, b103.fm, ncnsportsnow.com

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