Irish boys seek ninth Pioneer title

Coming off a pair of one-sided conference victories last week at Wymore Southern (70-31) and home against Johnson-Brock (76-41), Falls City Sacred Heart  – winners of four-straight games and the defending conference tourney champs – enter this week’s 19th Annual Pioneer Conference basketball tournament as the top seed and new number one team in Class D2.

Last week’s opponents also served as a preview of the Irish’s first round opponent, as Wymore (3-13) and J-B (4-13) faced off last night in Johnson with the winner advancing to play FCSH Wednesday night at 6 in Johnson.    

FCSH, now 16-2, also have the opportunity of defending their title in the friendly confines of Prichard Auditorium, as the tournament returns to Falls City for the first time in seven years. The Irish have won 14-straight at Prichard and lost only three times over the past three seasons.   

FCSH rolled through Diller-Odell, Lewiston and Sterling by an average of nearly 23 points per game en route to last year’s eighth conference tourney crown, but haven’t repeated as champions since 2006 when they won their fourth-straight title and sixth overall. Moreover, the last time Prichard was as the backdrop for the event – 2007 – the Irish finished fourth after a 1-2 week.

Matt Goltz scored 11 points in the first half for the Irish last Tuesday against Southern, as FCSH built a 33-3 halftime lead. The 6-foot-3 senior converted all four free throws,  hit 6-of-8 shots from the floor and finished with a game-high 16 points. Senior Colin Niemeyer added a pair of three-pointers and finished in double-figures with 12 points.

Irish senior Chaz Dunn finished 7-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-4 at the line in the rout of the Eagles Friday night. Dunn added four steals and six assists to his 19-point performance, while Goltz and junior Austin Malone contributed 15 and 11, respectively. Freshman Bryant Jorn joined Goltz with seven rebounds.

FCSH outscored J-B 43-21 in the second and third quarters after leading by only six, 17-11, at the end of the first. Dunn had 11 in the third, while Malone (7) and Niemeyer (6) posted 13 of the team’s 19 points in the second quarter. Niemeyer finished with nine points, all via the three-ball.

Class D2 tenth-ranked Lewiston (11-7) is seeded fourth and faces the five seed, Pawnee City (11-6), Wednesday at 7:30 in Johnson. The bottom of the bracket includes D2 No. 7 and third-seeded Sterling (11-6) against six-seed Friend (7-9) Wednesday at 6 at Lourdes Central Catholic in Nebraska City, while second-seeded and Class D1 fifth-ranked Lourdes (13-4) hosts the winner of Monday’s game between Diller-Odell (8-9) and Humboldt-TR-S (2-14) Wednesday at 7:30.

Thursday’s semifinals at Prichard are scheduled for 4:30  and 7:30 p.m., with the Irish, should they advance, set to play in the late game.

Saturday afternoon’s third-place and championship games are set for 4 and 5:45, respectively.

Scoring vs. J-B
FCSH – Niemeyer 9, Dunn 19, Malone 11, Jorn 7, Goltz 15, Arnold 3, Scheitel 4, Fiegener 4, Strasheim 4.
J-B – Ty. Ebeler 4, Neufeld 4, Speckman 2, Stahl 13, Koperski 2, Stutheit 4, Clark 7, Balm 5.

Scoring vs. Wymore Southern
FCSH – Niemeyer 12, Witt 6, Dunn 9, Malone 6, Jorn 2, Kean 1, Goltz 16, Arnold 4, Scheitel 2, Fiegener 8, Mullins 2, Ramer 2.
WS – Zvolanek 1, King 3, Ames 1, Bednar 3, Barr 3, fields 2, Carpenter 5, Ullman 5, Lovell 8.


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