It took an extra day, but it was well worth the wait for the Boone Central girls basketball team.
After the originally-scheduled C1-5 final was postponed by Friday’s snowstorm, the Lady Cardinals made the long trek to Bassett Saturday and ran roughshod over the Valentine Badgers to secure the first girls district basketball championship in Boone Central school history.
The Cardinals brushed aside the delay, a lengthy bus ride and slow start to thoroughly dominate the final three quarters of a 69-38 victory over 9-12 Valentine.
Boone Central, 21-2, advances to the girls state tournament for the first time since the Albion/Petersburg merger. It will be the first state tourney trip for the Lady Cardinal program since Albion’s appearance in 1982.
Boone Central’s big win Saturday produced a mixture of jubilation and relief for Card coaches, players and fans.
Despite its sterling record, lofty state ranking and victory over previously undefeated and #1-rated Crofton in the C1-9 sub-district final, Boone Central could not rely on a wild card after Kimball knocked off Hershey in the C1-6 final Friday night.
The Cardinals simply took care of business and did it the old-fashioned way at Bassett – they earned it.
Now, on to Lincoln!
“We are ecstatic about qualifying for the state basketball tournament!” exclaimed Boone Central Coach Mike Kennedy as he savored Saturday’s performance.
“Our kids have been a very close group this entire season,” he noted. “They really have bonded like crazy glue.
“We have had a purpose to all that we have done and have been focused daily on improving. Our team is very deserving of this opportunity and look forward to it with great anticipation.
“This has been a dream season of basketball at Boone Central,” Kennedy praised. “It is our intention to compete in the state tournament with passion, loyalty, effort and pride.
“We are all in!”
On paper, Saturday’s district final looked to be something of a mismatch in Boone Central’s favor.
Despite that, Valentine grabbed the momentum in the opening minutes before the Cardinals answered behind a blistering first-quarter scoring performance by senior Stephanie Paulson.
By the midpoint of the second period, the Cards were flying high and the rout was on.
“Our defensive pressure wore them down as the game progressed,” Kennedy noted. “We were able to switch defenses effectively and force turnovers.
“By the end of the first quarter, we really forced them out of any offensive flow and were beginning to find our rhythm offensively.
“We were able to score in the post effectively in the first half and, when they sagged into the lane, were able to shoot a high percentage (41%) from the three-point line.
“We also had a great effort on the boards and limited them to very few second-chance opportunities,” he added. “Stephanie got us off to a great start, while Julia Temme and Brittany Luettel shot the ball extremely well from the three-point area.”
All in all, it was a day those in the Lady Cardinal basketball program will long remember, said Kennedy.
“We really want to say thank you to all the fans for the overwhelming support at Bassett. It was an unbelievable atmosphere for the district championship game.”
Boone Central is seeded third in the Class C1 state tournament field and will face #6 seed Bennington (18-3) Thursday at Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln (3:45 p.m.).
Valentine 8 6 11 13 – 38
B. Central 13 18 21 17 – 69
BC scoring: Paulson 21, Temme 12, Koch 8, Luettel 7, Struebing 5, Wells 4, Beckwith 3, Carder 3, Pelster 3, Kolm 2, Baker 1
Rebound leaders: Struebing 6, Paulson 4, Luettel 4
Assist leaders: Temme 4, Beckwith 4
Steal leaders: Temme 7, Beckwith 4, Carder 3.
Complete Details in Print Edition of Albion News.