Sterling legend Lempka hopes to deliver for Jets again

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 11:05 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 11:12 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Eleven years after winning a state basketball championship, Zach Lempka is hoping to add to Sterling’s trophy case again. In 2009, Lempka made a last-second jump shot in the Class D2 title game. The shot is considered one of the most thrilling moments in the school’s athletic history.

“I think back to that moment,” Lempka said with a smile. “As a team, they put me in that position.”

The Sterling state champion now coaches football at his alma mater, where he’s occasionally reminded of his decade-old heroics.

“I remember him taking the shot,” senior running back Derek Buss said. “I remember it going it and the crowd going crazy.” Buss and several other members of the Jets football team were in elementary school at the time. Fellow senior Sam Boldt says he’s aware of Lempka’s elevated status within the community. He describes Lempka as an intense coach who loves Sterling athletics.

“Its just cool to have him as our coach now,” Boldt said. “He makes us work hard and pushes us to our limit. Its just super cool that he’s back in Sterling, his hometown, and we’re playing for a state championship.”

The Jets are 10-0 in 2020 while averaging nearly 60 points per game. Sterling plays fellow unbeaten, McCool Junction, in the Class D6 championship. The title game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Kearney.

Lempka has encouraged his players throughout the week to enjoy the championship game experience.

“Its just been a run ride that I’m glad to be a part of,” Lempka said.

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