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St. Francis boys use big third quarter to defeat Lutheran High; Flyer girls also top Eagles

January 27, 2019

Humphrey St. Francis outscored Lutheran High Northeast 19-6 in the third quarter to erase an eight-point halftime deficit and power its way to a 58-52 win over the Eagles on Saturday at the Clayton and Vivian Andrews Activities Center.

“They’re a quality team,” St. Francis coach Eric Kessler said of the Eagles. “To come out of here with a victory, it doesn’t happen very often, just very happy.”

Earlier, the Flyer girls improved to 16-3 with a convincing 63-33 triumph over Lutheran High.

Both the St. Francis and Lutheran High boys had trouble scoring early in the first quarter and Eagles coach Darin Suckstorf was frustrated.

“We were playing so well, I thought we should have been up 10-2 and it was 2-2 on the board,” he said. “We just missed some shots, missed some free throws.”

Tanner Pfeiffer’s 3-point shot from the baseline put the visitors up 10-5 with about a minute to go in the first.

The Eagles answered with a 3-0 run to close the quarter. Brady Jackson’s bucket from the low post just before the buzzer cut the Flyers’ lead to 10-8.

St. Francis jumped out with a 10-6 run early in the second quarter. Evan Foltz completed a three-point play to put the Flyers on top 20-14. That came with 5:48 to play in the half and St. Francis would score just two points for the remainder of the period.

That’s when Lutheran High seized the momentum. Ben Gebhardt drained a pair of threes an Jaxson Kant scored eight points in the last four minutes of the first half to put the Eagles on top 30-22.

Lutheran High looked poised to blow the game wide open in the third quarter as Cort McKeown and and Gebhardt both scored from 3-point range to put Eagles on top 36-24 with just under five minutes to play in the quarter.

But St. Francis turned the tide by closing out the period with a 13-0 run. Tanner Pfeifer’s transition layup after a turnover tied it at 36, then Trevor Pfeifer drove to the basket, made a layup, was fouled and sank the free throw to give the Flyers a 39-36 advantage with 22 seconds left.

“It did not look good at halftime, things were not going our way,” Kessler said. “I’m just really proud of our effort, the third quarter was tremendous. We played well, cranked up the defense a little bit.”

Perhaps more than a little bit. Lutheran High had nine turnovers in the third quarter while the Flyers had none.

Suckstorf called it the key to the game. “Give Humphrey St. Francis a lot of credit, that’s what they do and they got that run in the third quarter and we just couldn’t stop it,” he said.

St. Francis led by five going into the fourth and Lutheran High wasn’t able to get any closer than that the rest of the way as the Flyers held on for a 58-52 win.

“I liked how we finished the game, we kept fighting,” Suckstorf said. “I told the boys, ‘I think we made some improvements here, this last three-four games.’ I think a few weeks ago, we don’t play with these guys. I think we’re getting better.”

The Flyers’ Trevor Pfeifer led all scorers with 23, while Foltz added 13 and Tanner Pfeifer 12. Gebhardt and Kant paced the Eagles with 19 and 18 points respectively.

As the season winds down, Kessler said his young Flyers will focus on staying consistent. “Shot selection, taking care of the ball, know what our roles are and how to do things, just try to keep getting better every day,” he said.

Meanwhile, Suckstorf said his Eagles have yet to play their best basketball. “But we’ll keep working and see if we can get there,” he said.

The St. Francis girls rolled to their fourth straight victory by scoring in double digits in all four quarters, while limiting the Eagles to single digits in each.

Point guard Allison Weidner showed why she’s an all-state candidate by scoring 14 points and routinely finding open teammates under the basket for easy layups. The sophomore was also four of four from the free throw line.

“She the floor leader, and her effort and the things she does just creates so much for everybody else,” St. Francis coach Bryan Reichmuth said.

Tara Foltz was Weidner’s favorite target. The 5-foot-7 senior led all scorers with 19.

On the other side, Lutheran High sophomore Leah Sugita came off the bench to lead her team in scoring with seven points.

“She’s a transfer from Heartland (Grand Island) Lutheran,” Eagles coach Mike Wiederin said. “She did some really good things tonight, as far as aggressiveness and finishing at the rim, and she gets fouled a lot.”

Since losing back-to-back games to pair of Class C teams - Pierce and Clarkson/Leigh - earlier this month, St. Francis has reeled off four straight wins and won the Goldenrod Conference tournament.

Reichmuth said his team is playing harder. “We’re a tempo team,” he said. “We’ve got to play fast, we’ve got to be up and down, so anything we can do on both sides of the ball to increase that is important.”

Despite the 30-point loss, Wiederin said there were stretches in the game where he thought his team played well. “You’re talking about a team that’s probably top-five if not top-two in D2. They’ve got a great history behind them, they’ve got probably one of the state’s best players (Weidner).

“I think we did pretty good against her. That fourth quarter, she went on a little bit of a run where she got six or eight points, but I think we handled her in check pretty well.”

Both schools are scheduled to play girl-boy doubleheaders on Tuesday. St. Francis visits Greeley to tangle with Central Valley while Lutheran High hosts David City Aquinas.

Boys Game:

Humphrey St. Francis 10 12 19 17 - 58

Lutheran High Northeast 8 22 6 16 - 52

- HUMPHREY ST. FRANCIS (14-4): Taylor Wemhoff 0 1-2 1; Justin Leifeld 3 1-3 7; Trevor Pfeifer 7 7-11 23; Tanner Pfeifer 4 2-3 12; Evan Foltz 6 1-1 13; Kolbe Classen 1 0-0 2; Totals: 21 12-20 58.

- LUTHERAN HIGH NORTHEAST (11-5): Cort McKeown 1 2-3 5; Brady Jackson 4 2-4 10; Ben Gebhardt 7 3-4 19; Jaxson Kant 6 5-8 18; Totals 18 12-18 52.

- 3-point field goals: HSF 4 (Trevor Pfeifer 2, Tanner Pfeifer 2), LHNE 4 (McKeown, Gebhardt 2, Kant); 2-point field goal percentage: HSF 17 of 42, 40.5 percent, LHNE 14 of 22, 63.6 percent; 3-point field goal percentage: HSF 4 of 19, 21.1 percent, LHNE 4 of 17, 23.5 percent; Rebounds: HSF 30, LHNE 38; Turnovers: HSF 13, LHNE 26; Fouls: HSF 16, LHNE 17.Blocks: HSF 2, LHNE 5.

Girls game:

Humphrey St. Francis 12 20 15 16 - 63

Lutheran High Northeast 7 9 9 9 - 33

-HUMPHREY ST. FRANCIS (16-3): Allison Weidner 5 4-4 14; Sydney Engel 3 0-0 6; Sydney McKay 1 0-0 2; Leah Podliska 0 0-1 0; Peighton Eisenmenger 1 0-0 2; Kyleigh Sjuts 2 0-0 4; Tara Foltz 8 1-1 19; Lauren Pfeifer 2 1-2 5; Kaylee Stricklin 1 1-2 3; Alissa Kosch 2 4-4 8; Totals: 25 11-14 63.

- LUTHERAN HIGH NORTHEAST (4-14): Lauren Buhrman 1 0-0 2; Mia Furst 1 2-2 4; Matty Boning 1 0-1 2; Chloe Spence 2 0-0 4; Becca Gebhardt 0 4-4 4; Kendra Rosberg 1 0-0 2; Ella Allgod 2 0-0 4; Leah Sugita 2 3-4 7; Lexi Ames 1 2-3 4; Totals 11 11-14 33.

- 3-point field goals HSF 2 (Foltz 2), LHNE 0; 2-point field goal percentage: HSF 23 of 50, 46 percent, LHNE 11 of 32, 34.4 percent; 3-point field goal percentage: HSF 2 of 8, 25 percent, LHNE 0 of 7; Rebounds: HSF 40, LHNE 23; Turnovers: HSF 16, LHNE 26; Fouls: HSF 14, LHNE 12; Blocks: HSF 1, LHNE 4.

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