One and done.
Boone Central/Newman Grove’s stay at the 2014 Nebraska Boys State Basketball Tournament was cut short by a Wahoo Bishop Neumann squad that clicked on all cylinders Thursday.
Neumann, ranked #1 in Class C1 by the Omaha World-Herald entering the tournament, scored inside, outside and seemingly from nearly every spot on the court in a 90-72 1st round victory at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.
Even when Boone Central/Newman Grove found its own offensive rhythm and mounted a spirited rally in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals could not silence Neumann’s offense.
For most of the game it seemed BC/NG, a C1 state finalist last year, could just not get in sync – at either end of the floor.
Neumann pulled away from a 12-11 lead mid-first quarter with an 11-2 run fueled by the Cavaliers’ first two 3-pointers. Pierce Koch’s 3-point shot pulled the Cardinals within 23-17 at the start of the second period, but Neumann answered with a 10-4 spurt to go up 33-21.
Wyatt Mazour brought Boone Central/Newman Grove fans to their feet with a long 3-pointer with four seconds to play in the opening half, but Neumann came right back with a running, buzzer-beating 3-point bomb from just steps across midcourt to lead 43-31 at intermission.
The first three minutes of the second half may have proved to be the deciding factor in the end. Neumann came out of the locker room smoking, raining in 3-point field goals on four consecutive possessions in the first 2:43 of the second half to boost its advantage to 55-37. The Cavaliers took their biggest lead, 70-50, on a steal and layup in the final seconds of the third quarter.
There was no quit in Boone Central/Newman Grove. Koch and Tyler Hedlund opened the final stanza with consecutive 3-point field goals and Derek Gentrup’s jumper in the lane made it 72-58. BC/NG ratcheted up its full court defensive pressure, forcing a number of Neumann turnovers in the final eight minutes, and Carter Johnson brought fans to their feet again with another 3-point shot – putting BC/NG right back in the game at 72-61 with 5:42 to play.
Two Gentrup free throws, a driving bucket by Koch and Koch’s subsequent 3-pointer tightened the margin to 78-68 with just over three minutes remaining and, after another Cavalier turnover, Gentrup nailed a long 2-point jumper to make it 78-70.
Hedlund followed with a steal and two free throws, cutting the Neumann lead to six, but the Cavaliers came back with an offensive rebound bucket, while the Cardinals missed three straight free throw attempts.
Another Neumann score off an offensive rebound boosted Neumann’s lead back to 10 with the clock ticking under 1:30. From there, the desperate Cardinals misfired on 3-point attempts and Neumann cashed in the last eight points for the final margin.
A valiant effort by the Cardinals, but a hole too deep to climb completely out of.
Neumann (19-6) advances to face Columbus Scotus (22-4) in a C1 semifinal Friday. BC/NG finishes the season 18-7.
Complete details, stats & more photos in next week’s Albion News