Queens of the Mid-State Conference.
When Boone Central raised the Mid-State Conference tournament trophy Saturday night at Northeast Community College’s Cox Activities Center in Norfolk, the Lady Cardinals officially donned the crown that has so often been passed between perennial Class C girls basketball powers West Point Central Catholic and Norfolk Catholic.
It took a strong finish in a 65-54 victory over feisty Hartington Cedar Catholic in the title game for Boone Central to break that stranglehold and capture the first Mid-State Conference girls basketball championship in school history.
“We positioned ourselves well by going 7-0 in the conference during the regular season and earning the #1 seed for the tournament,” happy Cardinal Coach Mike Kennedy commented. “We had been playing well in games leading up to the tournament and this week really gave a gutsy performance.
“The girls battled through illness and injury and played for the name on the front of the jersey, as they have all season.
“They played for each other to make this dream a reality,” Kennedy praised. “This is an amazing collection of players, managers and coaches.
“I am so proud of all of them.”
Boone Central had little trouble in its tourney opener Monday, Feb. 2, completely dominating the Madison Dragons in a 63-18 victory.
The Cardinals blanked Madison in the first quarter, taking a 13-0 lead, and built a mind-boggling 32-2 halftime advantage.
“Our defensive intensity really smothered Madison in the first half and a good part of the second,” Kennedy noted. “We took good care of the ball, shot well and rebounded our misses to get second-chance opportunities.
“It was a good start to the tournament, giving us confidence by how well we played.”
Boone Central continued its conference roll with a second impressive tournament victory Thursday over the Pierce Bluejays (53-31).
“Our offense was sporadic in this game, but our defense was very focused and made it difficult for Pierce to get good shots,” Kennedy commented. “We finished our defensive possesions with strong rebounding and limited a good team to 31 points.”
Although Boone Central had a definite size advantage over the smaller Bluejays, the Cardinals did damage both inside and out in the contest.
“Stephanie had a good night inside for us with 15 points and eight rebounds, but we also had four players make three-point shots.
“The seven three-point field goals were a big factor for us.”
At first glance, some might have thought Saturday’s Mid-State Conference tournament championship game would be a bit of a mismatch. Afterall, Boone Central had defeated Hartington Cedar Catholic by 24 points in the 2008-09 season opener.
However, over the course of the season, Cedar Catholic had become a much-improved squad, compiling a 14-3 record, entering the Class C2 state ratings and twice defeating both Norfolk Catholic and West Point Central Catholic, including wins over the Lady Knights and Bluejays in the first two rounds of the tournament.
The Lady Trojans proved they were a worthy participant in the title game, extending Boone Central through three harrowing quarters before the Cardinals pulled away for a 65-54 victory.
“This was a fitting ending to the conference tournament. We knew Cedar Catholic was going to play well and give us a good game,” acknowledged Kennedy. “They scored 36 points in the first half and we’re only allowing around 35 per game.
“We made some adjustments at halftime that allowed us to take them out of their game.”
Complete Details in Print Edition of Albion News.