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TIME OUT with Joe Flanagan

Survivor?

I have to admit, I’ve never had much interest in the spate of reality shows that became the rage of television in recent years, but wasn’t there something called ‘Ultimate Survivor’?
Whether that title is spoken for or not, it would certainly be an apt description of the girls basketball team that ends up winning the Class C1 state championship this March.
Class C1 is the ultra-competitive division in Nebraska high school basketball this season. Predicting a winner – or even a favorite – would be futile at this point. The ratings in the state’s largest dailies – the Lincoln Journal-Star and Omaha World-Herald – have been shuffled more than a Vegas dealer’s card deck.
Harrowing for C1 coaches. Challenging for the athletes. Loads of fun for the fans.
Our Boone Central Lady Cardinals are right in the mix. BC earlier vaulted to the top of the ratings with its impressive win over preseason #1 Minden, slipped to #3 after a narrow loss to Hastings St. Cecelia and is now ranked #5 in the Journal-Star and #6 in the OWH after being nipped last week by the Scotus Shamrocks.
As I’ve watched the Lady Cards this season, I’ve wondered if this is the toughest schedule the Boone Central girls have ever faced. The Mid-State Conference has always been a grind, but this year, it seems BC has faced a rated team, or at least contender, every week!
Minden, St. Cecelia, Scotus, O’Neill, Wayne, Guardian Angels, Crofton, Twin River, Pierce,  Ord, West Holt. The worst record among those teams is 9-6!
But, Minden can claim much the same, as can St. Cecelia and upcoming Mid-State opponent Norfolk Catholic.
Oh yes, the Lady Knights. Catholic, on an eight-game win streak (which includes victories over Class B #3 Beatrice, C1 #4 St. Cecelia and C1 #7 Wahoo), became the Journal-Star’s latest #1 team this week and is #3 in the Omaha Top 10.
Just in time for Thursday’s visit from Boone Central. You gotta love it!
So, ho hum, just another Top 10 clash. Then, the Lady Cards’ next challenge will be the annual Mid-State Tournament, which merely includes Catholic, BC, LJS #6 O’Neill, LJS #9 Pierce, LJS #10 Wayne, C2 #10 Crofton and D1 #2 Guardian Angels C.C. Whew!
One thing is certain – Boone Central’s 2011-12 slate is going to steel the Lady Cardinals for district play.
Teams can certainly be worn down when facing such a week in, week out grind. But this BC team can combat that to an extent with its unusual depth. And the Cards are learning plenty about themselves – their strengths, their weaknesses, areas of their game that need work – not just in the 14 victories to date, but also the pair of losses.
In the end, this kind of experience can only pay benefits when it comes to post-season crunch time.
BC may have caught a break with its C1-8 sub-district opponents (4-11 Central City, 5-9 St. Paul, 8-10 G.I.C.C.). But, waiting on the other side of the district bracket? The C1-7 survivor between Norfolk Catholic, Wayne and Pierce.
That’s the C1 theme in 2012 – being the ‘Ultimate Survivor’.
It should make for riveting drama as the season enters the February/March stretch run.
Enjoy!

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