The Boone Central/Newman Grove boys basketball team was not allowed to wade slowly into the 2013-14 season on opening weekend. The Cardinals, the preseason Class C1 #1 choice by the Omaha World-Herald, jumped into the action with both feet, edging C2 #3 Hartington Cedar Catholic in Albion Friday night, then topping C1 #10 Lakeview 64-58 Saturday at Columbus.
Success is forged by such tests.
“This was a great start to the season,” said BC/NG Coach Dan Zoucha. “Our games will be tough each week and we must be ready for every team’s best shot.”
A full house turned out for Friday’s Mid-State Conference opener and watched Hartington C.C., with three starters returning from a team that finished third in the 2013 Class C2 state tournament, race to a 20-10 first-quarter lead.
“The Birdcage” was soon rocking, however, as BC/NG, extending its defense with full-court pressure, outscored the Trojans 18-9 in the second period, then prevailed with clutch play in the second half.
The Cardinals made 17 steals in the contest and converted many into offensive opportunities. Tyler Hedlund’s three-pointer put the hosts up 43-36 with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter and BC/NG held off one final push from Cedar Catholic in the final minutes of the game.
“We upped the tempo a little bit and put the press on,” Zoucha said. “That’s something we did last year and we thought it was very favorable to us.”
Boone Central/Newman Grove had to dig deep for more energy Saturday at Columbus, rallying from several deficits to defeat the Lakeview Vikings 64-58.
“Back to back games against rated teams is quite a chore anytime,” Zoucha acknowledged. “We knew going into the game they would be a good outside shooting team and we needed to limit their shooters from getting open.
“We had a few letdowns in the first quarter and Lakeview was up three. We were able to cause seven turnovers in the second and used them to take the lead at halftime.”
Derek Gentrup’s hot hand in that second quarter – nine points, including a 3-point field goal – helped ignite a 17-9 Card run and 30-25 halftime lead.
The Vikings bounced back to take a 43-40 advantage into the final stanza and BC/NG rallied again in the fourth. Hedlund scored 10 points in the period and the Cardinals sank 15-of-19 free throws to lead the charge.
Further details in Print & Online editions of Albion News.