It wasn’t easy, but the Sacred Heart boys basketball team came away with their eighth-straight win on Tuesday night–this time on the road against upstart Republic County, 67-45.
The final score didn’t represent how the Buffaloes made the Knights earn their 44th consecutive league win in-a-row. Republic County started the game up 9-4, when Sacred Heart’s Tate Herrenbruck heated up. The Knight junior guard would score 12 points in the first quarter, propelling Sacred Heart in front 18-13 after one.
The Knights controlled the second quarter, though still only led 31-26 at halftime.
In the second half, the story would be defense for Sacred Heart–mainly from one player: Trace Leners.
Leners, who was also fantastic defensively in the first half, helped Sacred Heart to begin to built a cushion with his tenacious defense by getting in the passing lanes and just being a terror toward the Buffalo offense all night. Behind Leners, the Knights had a 49-40 lead going in to the final quarter.
The first part of the last quarter belonged to Republic County. Led by Clint Callaway, the Buffaloes would mount a massive rally after falling behind 51-41. Callaway from both inside and out would rally the Buffs to within five, 51-46 with three minutes to go. Sacred Heart also helped, with four or five-straight possessions with turnovers or poor shots.
That’s when Leners put the team on his back and willed the Knights to a win. Leners was able to force several steals down the stretch, rattling the Buffaloes and helping Sacred Heart end the game on a 14-1 run.
Ethan Buckner also helped Sacred Heart with several crucial buckets in the game’s final moments.
Republic County (3-5, 1-4 NCAA) fought hard all night, but appeared to run out of gas toward the end of the game. Callaway led the way with 18 Buffalo points. Ethan Nutsch added in 10 points.
Sacred Heart (8-2, 4-0 NCAA) was inconsistent at times on both ends of the floor as a team, but made enough plays down their stretch to continue their winning streak. Herrenbruck was the Knights’ leading scorer with 17 points. Buckner had a career-high 15 points, Charlie Skidmore scored 13 points and Trace Leners added in 11. Though, Leners had well near 10 steals, several shot blocks and rebounds to complete one of the best individual defensive performances of the year around the area.
Sacred Heart returns home Friday to host Ellsworth.
SACRED HEART Girls 51, Republic County 33
Sacred Heart’s girls team used stellar defense in the second half to finally pull away from Republic County.
Much like the boys game, Republic County kept it close for two-in-a-half quarter on its home floor. Sacred Heart led 14-11 after one and 28-22 at halftime.
Hannah Goetz from outside and Teghan Slagle from inside helped the Knights finally pull away in the second half. Both players would finish in double-figures as well as Ally Cochran.
Sacred Heart would dominate the second half, outscoring the Lady Buffs 23-11 in the final two stanzas.
Republic County (1-7, 0-5 NCAA) was paced by Izzy Wheeler with eight points, though, most came in the first half.
Sacred Heart (7-3, 3-1 NCAA) now moves in to a two-way tie for second place in the North Central Activities Association with Beloit, and only two games back of first place Russell. Goetz and Slagle both led the way with 14 points each, while Cochran added in 11 points.
Sacred Heart hosts Ellsworth on Friday in Salina. Join Countdown to Tipoff at approximately 5:45 p.m. Friday on FM 104.9.