By Brian McKim
The top-seeded Sacred Heart Irish made their way to the NSAA state semifinals, downing the Wynot Blue Devils 46-29 at Lincoln Northeast on Monday morning in the opening round. Sacred Heart, making their 26th appearance (trailing only Lincoln Southeast with 27) at the state tourney, used a 10-0 run from the end of the third to the beginning of the fourth to pull away from the No. 8 seeded Blue Devils to get the win.
Wynot got off to a quick start on Monday morning, leading 5-2, but a pair of free throws by Jessica Wertenberger put SH in front for the first time, 6-5 with four minutes to play. Wertenberger kept the pressure on the Blue Devils, burying a three from the corner to put SH in front for good, 9-6. Erison Vonderschmidt picked up her third and fourth points of the game, hitting a pair of free throws to keep the Irish in the lead 11-8. Olivia Eickhoff closed out the scoring for the Irish with a floater to keep the lead at three, 13-10 heading into the second quarter.
Eickhoff scored her third point of the game, hitting 1-2 at the foul line in the opening minute of the second. More importantly, Wynot senior Karley Heimes who averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game, picked up her third foul and missed the rest of the second quarter. With Heimes out, Wynot struggled on the offensive end, scoring three points, all from the foul line, in the period. Meanwhile, for the Irish, Vonderschmidt scored four straight and Rachel Magdanz closed out the scoring with a bucket to put Sacred Heart in front 20-13 at the break.
Magdanz continued to warm up in the third, scoring four points in the first two minutes to increase the Irish lead to 11, 24-13. Wynot kept pace, getting a three from Heimes and then a three-point play the old-fashioned way by Heimes to make it 26-19.
The Irish offense then started to click as Vonderschmidt hit two straight to begin a 10-0 run. DeLanie Witt canned a trey at the buzzer to give the Irish their biggest lead at 14, 33-19 at the end of three.
A drive and bucket by Magdanz in the fourth increased the Irish lead to 17, 38-21, with 6:34 to play. Threes by Myrah Sudbeck and Allison Wieseler cut the Irish advantage to 11 at 40-29. Sacred Heart proceeded to hit 6/8 from the charity stripe in the final two minutes to seal the win, 46-29.
Sacred Heart was led by Magdanz with 17 points, nine coming in the final eight minutes. The senior made good on 5/6 attempts from the foul line. Vonderschmidt was next for the Irish with 15 points, hitting ¾ from the charity stripe. Karley Heimes scored 12 and Amber Lawson hit for five for the 15-11 Blue Devils.
Sacred Heart ends the Blue Devils season for the second consecutive season and is 4-5 versus Wynot all-time at the NSAA state tournament.
Scoring vs. Wynot
SH Magdanz 17, Eickhoff 5, Tisdel 1, Witt 3, Wertenberger 5, Vonderschmidt 15.
Wynot Myrah Sudbeck 3, Wieseler 3, Pinkelman 4, Kinslee Heimes 2, Lawson 5, Karley Heimes 12.
The win sets up a rematch against the Sterling Jets in the semifinals at the Devaney Center on Wednesday, March 9 at 6:00 p.m. The Irish defeated the Jets 72-45 to open the season and again, 55-47 in the subdistrict final. Sterling raced past South Platte, 65-33 in the district final to reach the state tournament for the fourth consecutive season and eighth overall. In the first round on Monday morning, the No. 5 seed Sterling Jets defeated the No. 4 seed Anselmo-Merna Coyotes 50-33, winning their sixth game in the last seven contests. Sterling enters the game at 20-6 and is led by Macy Richardson who averages 17 points and seven rebounds per contest. Richardson led Sterling on Monday with a game-high 29 points.