Lady Irish looking to learn from last year’s district final

Top-ranked Falls City Sacred Heart defeated No. 3 Sterling, 48-38, in the D2-1 subdistrict final last Thursday at Johnson – their third double-digit victory of the season over the rival Jets – and in doing so, advanced to Friday’s 7 p.m. district championship against No. 8 Diller-Odell (14-9), who advanced with wins over Hampton (68-45) and No. 9 Exeter-Milligan (55-38).

A trio of Lady Irish players contributed 11 points each – junior Abby Magdanz, sophomore Maggie Goltz and freshman Haylee Heits – as FCSH used a 22-4 third quarter to pull away from Sterling, who connected on just  1-of-14 field goal attempts in the third period. FCSH finished 14 of 31 from the floor, including 6-for-17 from the three-point line, while Sterling shot 31 percent from the floor for the game.

Like a season ago, FCSH’s victory in the subdistrict final all but guarantees them a spot in next week’s state tournament in Lincoln, but they entered last year’s dance with a broken high heel after Deshler defeated them 43-37 in the district final.

Lady Irish Head Coach Luke Santo hopes this year’s team uses last year’s district championship loss as motivation Friday night in Pawnee City.

“Last year, everyone knew that we were in, but we didn’t really talk about it and we showed up flat and got it handed to us,” Santo said. “We’ll address it a little more this year. It will be easier to get the girls attention because everyone went through that history lesson last year.”

The Lady Irish have owned D-O the past decade winning five-straight games and 17 of 19 since the 2003-04 season, all by an average of nearly 19 points per game. D-O played FCSH to nine points earlier this season – 44-34 – only to have FCSH hand them a 37-point loss three days later in the first round of the MUDECAS tournament.

History aside, Santo knows facing D-O for a third time will be tough and said his girls could see an entirely different team Friday.

“They’re going to be fighting for their lives,” Santo said, “so we need to be able to match their effort. They’ll probably try some different stuff, so we’ll have to be prepared for whatever they throw at us.

“We’ve had a really good year, but we’ve missed out on a couple of championships at MUDECAS and at Pioneer, so we have a lot of motivation to go out and win our district and head into state the right way.”

Scoring vs. Sterling
FCSH – Jordan 3, A. Magdanz 11, E. Magdanz 6, Goltz 11, Barnes 6, Heits 11.
Sterling – E. Goracke 8, Lempka 12, Hesterman 2, Kahler 3, Cockerill 13.

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