The Sacred Heart Gremlins hope to make some more history Saturday in Independence.
The Gremlins will be playing for their first-ever trip to the state semifinals in a Class 2 quarterfinal basketball game at the Independence Events Center.
They will face a familiar foe — the team that beat them in the same round last March.
The top-ranked Gremlins (28-0) will face third-ranked West Platte (27-1) at 2 p.m. with the winner advancing to next week’s final four in Columbia. West Platte was the state runner-up in 2013.
The Gremlins broke a school record in Wednesday night’s 83-48 sectional win over Skyline. They won a single-season record 28th game.
“Everybody’s excited about it,” Sacred Heart coach Steve Goodwin said. “The town, the school are buzzing about (the 28th win and Saturday’s game).”
Last year, the Blue Jays used their size and took advantage of Sacred Heart’s poor shooting in a 76-66 victory, denying it its first trip to the state semifinals.
The loss left a bitter taste in Sacred Heart’s mouth.
“We’ve used that as motivation the last 364 days. You can’t forget,” Goodwin said. “When you’re athletic and competitive, you’ll always remember a big game like that. Our kids are excited about the challenge.”
Similar to last season, the Gremlins must deal with 6-10 center Bryce Cashman and 6-5 forward Adam Roe.
Roe scored a team-high 27 points in last year’s matchup. Cashman was held to 11 points but he scored nine of them in the third quarter where the Blue Jays built a double-digit lead.
“They’re awfully talented — You have two D-I players — it’s a lot for any team (to deal with),” Goodwin said. “I like the way we’ve been playing all year. We’re excited about winning sectionals. We want to just go down there and play our best game of the year.”
Last winter, West Platte controlled the paint, and the Gremlins struggled to score from outside.
“We have some things we want to do against them, different from last year,” Goodwin said. “When they try to barrel in toward the basket, hopefully, we’ll be there before them and beat them to the spot.”
Unlike last season, the Blue Jays won’t enter Saturday’s game an unbeaten team. Mid-Buchanan handed them their only loss of the season in February, but they avenged that loss with a 62-60 win in the District 15 championship game last Saturday.
West Platte beat East Buchanan 64-48 Wednesday night in the sectional round.
The Gremlins have been dominating the competition all season, and the key has been defense.
“We’ll play fantastic defense Saturday,” Goodwin said. “You kind of look at us, we don’t have a lot of height but a lot of heart and smarts. We’re a pretty smart basketball team. To get to this point, you have to know a little about the game.”
Note: Sacred Heart tied the school record for most wins in a season in their 67-53 win over Sweet Springs in the District 14 title game. The Gremlins won 27 games during the 1972-73 season.