From frigid to furious: Lady Irish rebound from semifinal loss to finish 3rd at state

What a difference a day makes.

Technically for Falls City Sacred Heart it was only 22 hours, but the one-eighty the Lady Irish pulled from Friday to Saturday this past weekend in Lincoln at the state basketball tournament helped end the season on a positive note.

The Lady Irish bounced back from a frustrating 51-28 loss to eventual Class D2 runner-up Osmond in Friday’s semifinal at Pershing Auditorium by knocking off Lindsay Holy Family, 50-35, in Saturday’s third-place consolation game at Lincoln Northeast High School. With the win Saturday, the Lady Irish finished 25-5 and tied a school record for most wins in a season set in 2002.

Sacred Heart head coach Luke Santo said his team deserves a lot of credit for their performance Saturday after a quick turnaround from Friday’s loss and know how beneficial it will be moving forward.

“To come back and play as hard as they did was impressive because it is tough to bounce back emotionally,” Santo said. “The win was huge when you look at the fact that the girls got the sense of what it’s like playing three games in Lincoln at the different gyms, at Pershing. They get that taste for that and with all of them coming back with all that experience, it’s huge  and could be a springboard for a really nice season.”

Santo described the mood of the team in the locker room after Friday’s loss as “deflated,” but made sure they refocused for the game against Holy Family, who like FCSH, is without a senior on their roster. Santo presented this to his team as almost a preview of what could lie ahead for the Lady Irish.

“The way I looked at it was we are all going to be back next year and Lindsay was kind of in the same boat. They thought they’d be playing at Devaney for a championship, but they are going to be back next year too,” Santo said. “This might be a game we could see a year from now at Devaney or Pershing, so let’s go out and make the most of it and see what happens.”

The Lady Irish, led by sophomore Elizabeth Magdanz and freshman Maggie Goltz, barraged Holy Family with a dozen threes and made Friday’s poor shooting performance seem like ancient history.

Elizabeth set the tone Saturday with the game’s first shot attempt, a 3-pointer that hit nothing but net and put FCSH up 3-0 less than a minute into play. She added two more threes in the second quarter and two in the third en route to 19 game-high points. Elizabeth finished with seven threes over the weekend and tied a D2 state tournament record set in 2006 by Kaily Kennel of Shickley.

Goltz, who made a huge splash in Lincoln by scoring 30 points in her state tourney debut in Thursday’s 57-42 opening round win over Sandhills/Thedford, helped the Lady Irish pull away from Holy Family with four 3-pointers in the second half. Goltz finished 6-for-9 from downtown Saturday and in doing so tied a D2 single-game state tournament record set by FCSH graduate Katie Simon in 1997. As luck would have it, the 30 points scored by Goltz Thursday tied a school record for points in a game at the state tournament set by, you guessed it – Katie Simon in 1997. She was the lone freshman to earn All-Tourney honors from the Omaha World Herald and her 58 points led D2 and was the fifth best total in all classes.

Lost a bit in the 12-for-21 three-point performance against Holy Family was the masterful job the Lady Irish did against LHF’s 6-foot-4 junior Kaylee Jensen, who entered the state tournament averaging nearly 25 points and more than 10 rebounds per game. Jensen was held to only two points in the second half and finished with just 12 for the game.

FCSH packed into a 2-3 zone with junior Emma Schock, who gave up almost eight inches to Jensen, in the middle and a combination of Goltz (6-0), Elizabeth Magdanz (5-9) and junior Ashli Jordan (5-6) on the blocks. Jensen was able to get a few buckets in the first half and held a 9-0 edge on the offensive glass in the game, but Santo was more than pleased with his team’s defensive effort.

“Jensen is a beast and to hold a girl who averages 25 points and 10 boards a game to 12 is pretty impressive,” Santo said.  “We dared their guards to hit shots and hoped to limit Jensen’s touches and it worked.”

The Lady Bulldogs connected on only 15-of-48 field goals and attempted only five free throws.

Osmond used a 1-2-2 zone defense Friday and the normally keen shooting Lady Irish could not get the shots to fall. Osmond held FCSH to two points in the second quarter and built a 26-12 halftime lead.

FCSH finished 2-of-14 from behind the arc and 10-for-43 from the floor, while Osmond benefited from three first-half 3-pointers and shot over 50 percent from the floor the first 16 minutes.

“I felt like we were getting good looks, but they just weren’t falling,” Santo said about the first half against Osmond. “If we could have just got a couple of those to fall early on and kept it under 10 at the half, things might have tightened up for them in the second half.

“Saturday is more like the team we were most of the year, not to the extent of making 12 threes, but we have great, great shooters and that potential has been there all year, but they just didn’t fall Friday.”

Third Place Consolation
Scoring vs. Lindsay HF

FCSH – Jordan, 2; A. Magdanz, 8; Schock, 3; E. Magdanz, 19; Goltz, 18.
LHF – Em. Kurtenbach, 10; Schumacher, 2; El. Kurtenbach, 2; McPhillips, 7; Wiese, 2; Jensen, 12.

Scoring vs. Osmond

FCSH – A. Magdanz, 7; Schock, 3; E. Magdanz, 8; Goltz, 10.
Osmond – Schmit, 7; Kumm, 11; Krohn, 14; Gutz, 15; Schuettler, 4.

First round
Scoring vs. Sandhills/Thedford

FCSH – Jordan, 5; A. Magdanz, 7; Schock, 4; E. Magdanz, 9; Fouraker, 2; Goltz, 30.
SH/T – Simpson, 3; Higgins, 4; K. Marten, 12; T. Marten, 8; Miles, 2; Spencer, 2; Taylor, 9; Milleson, 2.  

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