The Class D2 third-ranked FC Sacred Heart Irish improved to 12-4 on the year with its fourth and fifth wins in a row last week (63-47 over Southern at Prichard Auditorium Tuesday; 72-54 Thursday at Johnson) and head into Pioneer Tournament play riding a wave of momentum.
FCSH scored more points and beat up on the competition like arguably no other point this year, which is – and has always been – the formula come February. With a No. 1 conference seed and placed firmly among D2s wildcard point leaders (currently fourth), the Irish are both well-positioned and catching stride when the games start to really matter. For teams playing in March, memories of December losses are as faded as last year’s homecoming king.
So, FCSH might’ve combined for 70 points in a pair of holiday break losses, but the same team put up a season-high 71 Thursday for the home crowd. There was enough encouragement to go around, not the least of which an 11-assist to two-turnover game from junior Bailey Witt and a second straight near-perfect night from senior Austin Malone (when the opponents played defense, anyway).
Malone scored 39 points in two games and missed a total of four field goals in the process. Tuesday he made 8-of-9 shots and scored 18 points to go with seven rebounds. Thursday’s encore? 9-of-12 shooting, 21 points and eight rebounds. He was a perfect 5-for-5 in a 10-point fourth quarter. (The all-state candidate was also 3-of-9 from the line while his team was 10-of-20,which is actually not the stuff of which long postseason runs are made).
Leading by just two at half, the Irish Thursday quieted the upset-minded Eagle crowd by pouring in 25 during a third-quarter run that saw senior Logan Scheitel drill a pair of threes and score 12 of his 18.
Tuesday, FCSH simply flexed it frontcourt muscles and imposed its will on the visiting Raiders. Sophomore Bryant Jorn turned in a double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds (six offensive), as the Irish owned the glass by a 32-12 margin.
With the weekend snowstorm pushing first-round games back a day, the FCSH boys will face today’s Sterling/Friend winner at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Pawnee City. The winner moves on to the semis at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, against the Johnson-Brock/Pawnee City winner. The title game is set for 8 p.m. Saturday in Wymore. It’s very likely to match up FCSH with second-seeded NC Lourdes Central.
FCSH — Keller, 5; B. Witt, 9; Malone, 18; Kean, 4; Scheitel, 12; Sean Arnold, 3; Jorn, 12.
Southern — King, 9; Fields, 2; Albers, 14; Saathoff, 3; Salts, 2; Carpenter, 6; Ullman, 3; Lovell, 8.
FCSH — Keller, 1; Keithley, 2; B. Witt, 7; Malone, 21; Sam Arnold, 3; Kean, 5; Scheitel, 18; H. Arnold, 4; Jorn, 8; Mullins, 2.
JB — Speckmann, 7; Ebeler, 5; Riley, 2; Clark, 3; Stutheit, 5; Bohling, 4; Balm, 9; Clark, 19.
The FCSH junior varsity improved to 10-4 on the season with a pair of wins, defeating Johnson-Brock, 37-24, and Southern, 36-19. Henry Arnold scored six in both wins, showing encouraging signs of rehabilitation from a broken leg that sidelined him the last half or so of the ‘14 football season.