As the old saying goes, “All’s well that ends well.”
Such is the case for the Cedar Valley Mavericks, who claimed the D1-4 District championship and a berth in the 2011 Nebraska Boys State Basketball Championships Tournament last week with a 37-21 victory over West Boyd.
When schools merge or join in cooperative athletic efforts, such as the one between Cedar Rapids and Greeley/Wolbach in 2010-11, it often takes some time for teams to jell and reach their peak.
Cedar Valley had many positives entering its joint basketball venture this year – experience (9 lettermen and 5 returning starters), height, depth and previous success (28 combined victories in 2009).
It didn’t all mesh immediately for Coach Adrian Allen and the Mavericks, however.
Cedar Valley stumbled to a 3-5 start and, entering the February stretch run, the Mavs stood just 7-7. From there, CV finished with a blitz of nine wins in 10 games, including a pair of victories in the D1-7 sub-district and the district title game win over West Boyd.
It’s also worth noting that the average record of teams to defeat Cedar Valley this season was 17-6. That tough competition paid off at the end of the season.
It especially helped in a tough district championship battle featuring tenacious defense by both sides.
With West Boyd (18-5) deploying an aggressive 2-3 match-up zone that caused a number of deflections and steals, Cedar Valley (16-8) countered with smothering man-to-man pressure to snuff out the Spartans’ perimeter-oriented attack.
“We had seen game tape that showed how methodically they passed the ball on the perimeter, basically lulling the defense to sleep until they got the shot they want,” commented Allen. “We knew we had to emphasize pressure on the perimeter.
“Offensively, we wanted to work our big kids high and low.”
That plan worked to perfection, especially in the second half.
Cedar Valley held a slim 14-13 halftime edge, mainly on the strength of two 3-point bombs by Tyler Zentner. West Boyd hit a 3-point field goal to open the second half and took an 18-16 lead on a nifty backdoor play, but the Mavericks finished the third period with a 5-0 mini-run to go back on top 21-18 and dominated the fourth quarter.
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