While Boone Central/Newman Grove’s games this past week had one thing in common – both being road trips – the Cardinals’ opponents were vastly different.
One was a team that hangs its hat on tough defense and generally lowscoring games, the other a squad that attempts to outscore opponents by firing three-point shots at a frantic pace.
BC/NG proved it can play either style competitively, but fell just short a victory sweep with a heartbreaking loss at Ainsworth Saturday night.
The Cardinals began their week by grinding out a 59-36 win over Class B Northwest (10-11) Tuesday at Grand Island.
BC/NG used a 21-11 burst in the second period, fueled by Keaton Henry’s seven points and five by Kyle Kramer, to take a 29-20 halftime lead. The Cards clamped down defensively following intermission, holding Northwest to just 16 second-half points. Scott Ketteler helped BC/NG extend its lead in the third period with seven points and Garrett Temme tallied six in the fourth as the Cardinals maintained a steady pace.
All in all, it was a performance that pleased Coach Dan Zoucha.
Along with a very long trip to Ainsworth Saturday night, Boone Central/Newman Grove (11-9) faced a team unlike any it had seen, or likely will see, this season.
In a thrilling seesaw contest, Boone Central/Newman Grove looked poised to garner its second victory of the week before Ainsworth (19-2) shot down Cardinal hopes, literally, with a buzzer-beating three-point shot and 66-63 win.
“Ainsworth is a team that shoots between 40-50 three-pointers a game,” Zoucha noted. “Defending a team such as that is a tough task. We knew we would have to take good shots ourselves, defend and rebound very well.”
It may have taken BC/NG a bit of time to adjust, as the Bulldogs broke out to a 20-13 first-quarter lead. The Cardinals limited Ainsworth to 12 second-period points, however, closing the gap to 32-28 by halftime.
Kramer sank one of BC/NG’s two three-point makes of the game in the third period and the Cardinals got five points apiece by Kramer, Temme, Henry and Ketteler to forge a 48-46 lead.
The Cards increased that margin to 52-46 before giving up consecutive offensive rebounds and baskets to Ainsworth, which took a 54-52 edge.
The teams battled back and forth, with BC/NG able to tie the score at 61 and again at 63, with 6.4 seconds to play.
“We felt we had the last play defended, but the pass along the right side went deep in the corner and they were able to get a shot off as time expired,” Zoucha said.
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