Two of Class D2’s best teams met Friday night at Prichard Auditorium in a highly anticipated season-opening matchup. Sacred Heart, ranked No. 2 and 4 by the Omaha World Herald and Lincoln Journal Star, respectively, hosted No. 4 and 3 Sterling, but as is the case most times, the product failed to live up to the billing.
The Irish, less than three weeks removed from their state championship in football, showed a little rust but clamped down defensively on the Jets en route to a decisive 45-34 victory.
Tied 17-17 at the half, Sterling scored the first four points of the third quarter – two from senior Jesse Phillips and two from senior Kody Benson – before Irish seniors Jarod Fiegener and Chaz Dunn combined for five quick points to put SH up 22-21 with 4:28 left in the third quarter. The Irish never trailed again and opened up a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
SH outscored the Jets 15 to six in the third quarter, 28-17 in the second half and held Sterling to less than 30 percent from the floor.
Senior Matt Goltz had a terrific night, as he finished a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor and 8-of-10 at the free-throw line for 20 game-high points to go along with seven rebounds and five blocks.
Dunn added nine points and junior Austin Malone led the Irish with eight rebounds.
The Irish struggled from from behind the arc and finished 1-for-9, but converted 15-of-23 two-point field goals.
Sacred Heart (1-0) hosts South Holt, MO tonight at 5 p.m., then Hiawatha, KS comest to Prichard Auditorium Thursday night. Friday the Lady Irish hit the road for the first time when they travel to Wetmore, KS.
Scoring vs. Sterling
FCSH – Niemeyer, 4; Dunn, 9; Malone, 1; Goltz, 20; Arnold, 1; Scheitel, 6; Fiegener, 2; Strasheim, 2.
Sterling – Bessey, 3; Wenzl, 12; Trauernicht, 1; Julian, 2; Phillips, 9; Benson, 7.