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TIME OUT by Joe Flanagan

Knock, knock, knocking on the Top 10 door.
The Boone Central Lady Cardinals have been rapping – and, lately, pounding – on the threshold of Class C1’s state ratings as their winning streak climbed into double digits.
Finally, the raters answered this week after the Cardinals dispatched Mid-State Conference rival West Point Central Catholic, which entered Saturday’s contest as the #1 team in Class D1.
What, you might say? Respect after beating a team two classes below Boone Central?
It may seem a bit odd, but Central Catholic, long one of Nebraska’s leading girls basketball programs in Classes C1 and C2, still garners a measurable amount of esteem despite dropping into a smaller-school class this year.
It may have seemed Boone Central was due a bit more respect itself in the early portion of the season. After all, the Cardinals returned three starters to a program that has qualified for the past two state tournaments.
However, even though the Card defeats were what might be termed ‘good losses’ – to C2 #2 Hartington C.C. (11-2) and C2 #4 Crofton (10-1) – they were, after all, still losses. BC had some nice victories over C2 #10 Twin River (11-2) and Wayne (10-5), but raters seemed to be waiting for a ‘signature’ win. Saturday’s apparently qualified.

Central Catholic’s 2010-11 squad was certainly not the caliber of some of its past state championship teams, but the Bluejays were still an athletic, well-coached outfit that commanded a good effort.
This was a solid test for the Cardinals, who missed the opportunity at a measuring stick a week ago when weather postponed the matchup against C1 #4 Hastings St. Cecelia, a team some feel is not only a potential state tourney qualifier, but perhaps a title threat.
The Cards will have another tough conference challenge next Thursday (Jan. 27) against a solid Norfolk Catholic team, then the week-long donnybrook known as the the Mid-State Tournament to open February. Another shot at Hartington C.C.? Good chance.
Of course, ratings at this point don’t really mean much, except that your program does, indeed, command some respect. In the end, a Top 10 berth won’t mean a lot if a team doesn’t take care of business in postseason play.
But, debuting at #9 in the Omaha World-Herald and shooting to #6 in the Lincoln Journal-Star serves notice to the rest of C1.
Yes, the Cardinals are still here. And, yes, they’re certainly among the teams with a bonafide shot at finishing the 2010-11 season in Lincoln.
The Albion News area actually has a full bumper crop of outstanding girls teams this season.
Lindsay Holy Family, the defending D2 state champion, knocked off D1 #5 Cedar Valley a week ago and faced D1 #4 Howells in a big conference tilt Tuesday. The Lady Bulldogs took an 11-1 mark and #2 ranking into that contest and look like a squad capable of making a repeat title bid.
Howells stopped Newman Grove’s six-game win streak last week, but the Jays remain #7 in the D1 Top 10 with a 10-2 record. Newman Grove, prior to Tuesday, remained the only team to top Holy Family and could get a rematch with Howells in the Cornhusker Conference Tournament.
Cedar Valley, 9-2, certainly should be taken seriously in D1. The Lady Mavericks’ only losses have been to Holy Family and D1 #1 Chambers/Wheeler Central. CV could use a ‘signature’ win of its own, however, as all nine victories have been over teams with below-.500 records.
And, don’t forget St. Edward, which has somewhat quietly fashioned a very nice 9-4 mark to date. The Beavers were nipped in overtime by Newman Grove and will have a couple shots at other area titans – Holy Family (Jan. 27), Cedar Valley (Feb. 2) – in the weeks ahead.
There’s plenty of basketball yet to play before even thinking about the postseason. But it certainly looks like there could be a number of area buses making that state capital trek come March.
Stay tuned!

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