Girls bball state tournament

Lady Irish compete in thirteenth consecutive state tourney

By Hallie Jones

The 2023-24 Sacred Heart girls’ basketball team and coaches celebrate their fourth-place finish at the state tournament.

On March 2, the Sacred Heart girls’ basketball team finished their season with a record of 21-6 and a fourth-place trophy at the 2024 state tournament. Despite only having nine players, the team qualified for the thirteenth consecutive year.

The team has won eight state championships, five in the last nine years. Coming off back-to-back state championships, they made a goal of going for the three-peat.

Going into the season, there were some doubts if Sacred Heart could pull off another state championship victory after losing four starters and having only one senior, Makinley Scholl, on the team. They didn’t know if there was going to be enough leadership to mark this year as a   3-peat. “It is hard to describe the amount of pressure of not only being the one senior on the team, but also realizing that this was my last year to play,” Scholl said. “Being the only senior has made me become a better teammate and leader.”

The team faced the Humphrey Saint Francis Flyers in their first game of the tournament. After a battle, the girls came out on top 30 to 21. Junior Jentry Lechtenberg led the team with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. “I love playing basketball with my teammates every day at practice,” Lechtenberg said. “I was really proud with how we played all year.”

The Lady Irish met another familiar foe for their second game against the Wynot Blue Devils. They came head-to-head in the championship game last year with this team, and the Irish came out on top. The first quarter Sacred Heart had the lead after going on a 4-0 run in the first few minutes, however the game took a turn when the Blue Devils went on a scoring streak ending the half with a score of 24 to 10 over the Irish. The girls fought hard, but after a long, brutal game, the girls were not making it back to the state championship.

After losing in the semi-final, the next day the girls played in the consolation game. The Howells-Dodge Jaguars lost to the Overton Eagles the previous day, and they came into this game wanting to redeem themselves against second-seeded Sacred Heart. When the game started it looked like Sacred Heart would be on the short end of the stick. The Howells-Dodge Jaguars led the half with 19 points while Sacred Heart trailed behind with 13. The girls were getting in foul trouble leading Luke Santo to bring four non-starters off the bench. The game ended with the Irish taking home another loss and the fourth-place trophy.

Despite finishing their season with two losses, the Lady Irish defied odds this year. After a good season, can the Irish keep the streak alive, qualify for a fourteenth consecutive state tournament and come home with another medal? That question has the public wondering if it is possible to take this defeat and use it to fuel the girls to come out on top next season.