LINCOLN — Jamie Stice didn't think his shot was going in. But when it fell, it allowed top-ranked Falls City Sacred Heart to escape with a first-round win at the Class D-2 state tournament.

Stice's 3-pointer rattled in at the buzzer, giving the Irish a 57-54 win over eighth-ranked Blue Hill at Lincoln Northeast.

"That's the most important shot I've hit in my life," said Stice, a junior who came into state averaging 3.8 points per game. He had two points Thursday before his game-winner.

"He's a good shooter. I'm glad he took the shot and made it," Sacred Heart coach Doug Goltz said.

Blue Hill, which was making its first state appearance since 1984, trailed throughout the final 30 minutes before finally tying it at 54 on John Himmelberg's 3-pointer with 30 seconds left.

Sacred Heart took a timeout and Goltz wanted to get the ball in the hands of senior Drew Bippes, who scored a game-high 23 points. But Blue Hill took Bippes away on the play and Stice was open after he had set a screen and knocked down the 3-pointer from the left side. After it dropped, his teammates celebrated with him under a dogpile near midcourt.

Sacred Heart, the defending state champion, won despite leading scorer and rebounder Tyler Witt going down with a left ankle injury midway through the second quarter. Goltz said he wasn't sure if Witt, who had seven points and five rebounds before the injury, would be available on Friday.

Freshman MJ Coffey led Blue Hill with 21 points. He hit five of his team's nine 3-pointers.

Blue Hill (18-9)...............13 15 12 14 - 54

Sacred Heart (25-1)........17 16 12 12 - 57

BH: MJ Coffey 21, Joseph Mackin 12, John Himmelberg 9, Jared Schmidt 7, Colby Karr 5.

FCSH: Drew Bippes 23,Jarrot Simon 8, Jake Hoy 7, Tyler Witt 7, Jamie Stice 5, Del Kasteel 5, Jakob Jordan 2.

Gene covers a variety of sports beats for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @geneOWH. Phone: 402-444-1038.

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