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01/17/2009 - Vrtiska gets hot from outside, as HTRS beats Sterling

By Jeff Motz
Lincoln Prep

Beatrice-----When it seemed to be in doubt for the Humboldt-Table Rock-Steinauer, Derek Vrtiska came to the rescue.  The 5-11 senior hit two big three-pointers in a 22-point 4th quarter and hit some late free-throws to boost the Titans to a 57-48 win over Class D-2 3rd-rated Sterling Saturday evening at the Beatrice City Auditorium.  HTRS claimed the consolation trophy of the "A" Division of the 80th annual MUDECAS Basketball Tournament.

Vrtiska, along with Marshall Toy, sparked the early 3rd quarter run, which helped shift the momentum away from the Jets.  The Titans took a 27-26 lead midway through the 3rd quarter off a three-point play from Lance Hanzlicek.  Sterling's 6-5 junior center Zach Lempka scored on the next possession to regain the lead.  

With under a minute left and HTRS up 35-33, Lempka hit a three-pointer to give Sterling a 36-35 lead heading to the 4th quarter.  Vrtiska started hitting from downtown and Toy used dribble penetration to score key baskets in the final frame.  Altogether, HTRS out scored Sterling 43-25 in the final 16 minutes of the game.

The turning point of the game in getting the momentum back was the Titan defense switching from a 2-3 zone in the 1st half to matching up man to man in the 2nd half, preventing the Jets from hitting key outside shots and utilizing Lempka underneath the basket.

Sterling started out with an 11-9 lead after the 1st quarter and took off on a 7-0 run in the 2nd quarter.  Lempka, Jake Saathoff, Jake Wirthele and Brandon Nieveen sparked a huge quarter for Sterling (11-2) and Kyle Lowmack hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Jets a 23-14 halftime lead.  

It's the 2nd straight loss for Sterling, after entering the MUDECAS tournament with an undefeated record.
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