Tigers, Irish both No. 5 seeds this weekend

Falls City Sacred Heart and Falls City High School boys’ basketball teams are both District Champions and both will take No. 5 seeds in their respective classes in this weekend’s State Basketball Tournament beginning Thursday in Lincoln. 

The 22-3 Tigers will play 20-5 Columbus Scotus at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at the Devaney Center in Lincoln. School will dismiss early: North and South Schools will dismiss at 11:15 a.m; Middle School at 11:20 and the High School at 11:30. If the Tigers win on Thursday, there will be no school on Friday, March 13. If the Tigers lose, school will go ahead as planned on Friday with a normal schedule. 

The public is invited to attend a pep rally at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at McIntyre-Henderson Field House in FCHS. 

Sacred Heart, 20-6, will be at Lincoln Southeast at 8:45 p.m. to face Riverside on Thursday. Sacred Heart School will dismiss at 11:30 a.m., giving the Irish fans a chance to support the Tigers. Sacred Heart will not have school on Friday due to the late game on Thursday night. A pep rally is planned for Sacred Heart at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The Tigers are making a second straight trip to the state tournament and 28th overall in school history. It’s Falls City’s third trip under the direction of Coach Don Hogue, who is the school’s all-time winningest coach and earned his 200th win in this season’s opener. FC went 47 years before taking the District Title in 2010.

Thursday’s first-round game with Columbus Scotus is the first-ever meeting between the schools in boys basketball. Scotus, which earned a wildcard after losing the district final by nine points to top-ranked and No. 1 Wahoo Bishop Neumann, is only appearing at state for the sixth time ever and last year’s third-place finish was it’s highest finish. The winner of Thursday’s game at Devaney will very likely face the defending champs at 10:15 a.m. Friday.

It’s been 52 years since the Tigers won at the State Tournament – they beat Minden 56-51 to win Class B in 1963. The game, played at the Lincoln Coliseum, was a sellout and Bill Schock of The Journal reported at least 250 Tiger fans were turned away at the gate, forced to either watch the game on TV or listen to the car radio on their way back to FC. Scalpers, he noted, were asking for as much as $2.50 for the 75-cent tickets.

The Tigers, as it turned out, didn’t need to beat Boys Town in last week’s District Final – and perhaps shouldn’t have. FC would’ve earned a wildcard berth and might have appeared in the other side of the bracket with a No. 6 or 7 seed. As it stands, FC has to beat C1’s top two teams to advance to Saturday’s title game.

The Irish are making a fourth straight trip to the state tournament and 19th overall in school history. It’s Sacred Heart’s 15th trip under the direction of Coach Doug Goltz, who is 29-6 all-time in state tourney games. He went 19 tourney games that spanned a period of more than 15 years before first suffering the agony of defeat in 2003 (Spencer-Naper, semifinals). Goltz’ teams have captured eight championships (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2008). 

Whether it’s Karma or coincidence, it’s worth noting that the Irish finished third in both the 2013 and 2014 state tournaments – just like the Lady Irish, who Saturday captured the 2015 D2 State Title with a five-point win over four-time champ Wynot. 

— Sophomore big man Bryant Jorn, a 6-4, 270-pound round mound of rebound, has found a different gear in the ‘15 postseason. He averaged 16 points in the two subdistrict wins, scoring 17 in FCSH’s 57-53 double-overtime win over Lincoln Parkview Christian, then had nine points and nine rebounds in his team’s 57-42 blowout victory over Exeter-Milligan in the District Final. Senior Logan Scheitel was on fire in that one, hitting 11-of-12 free throws and 3-of-5 threes in a 24-point effort. 

— Sacred Heart’s first round opponent, Riverside, located in Cedar Rapids, is making just its second state tournament appearance ever and first since 1927. The Chargers handed Wilcox-Hildreth, D2’s second seed, just its second loss of the season in the District Final, 48-36. 

An Irish victory late Thursday night sends them to the 3:45 p.m. Friday semifinal likely against top-seeded, top-ranked defending Class D2 State Champion Bancroft-Rosalie at the Devaney Center. It would be a rematch of last year’s semifinal, where the Panthers beat FCSH 58-50 en route to the D2 title.

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