Year after year after year, you can bank on the road through the Mid-State Conference Boys Basketball Tournament being a tough, rocky one, full of bumps and potential pitfalls.
The 2016 edition of the conference donnybrook was no exception.
The Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals stubbed their toes once over three grueling days, but bookended a pair of victories around a semi-final loss for a third-place finish in the rugged C1 conference tourney.
With the event’s first round games postponed by weather complications, it was three games in three nights, which Boone Central/Newman Grove began Thursday with a 63-48 victory over Battle Creek. O’Neill used a strong second half to upend the Cards 62-49 Friday, but BC/NG bounced back Saturday to thump Guardian Angels C.C. 62-47 in the consolation final.
The results showed the nature of the topsy-turvy Mid-State. Boone Central/Newman Grove avenged previous losses to Battle Creek and Guardian Angels with the wins, but O’Neill served the Cards some payback for an earlier BC/NG victory on the Eagles’ home court.
“I was proud of the way our guys played, overall, in three days,” praised Cardinal Coach Justin Harris. “We have to find a way to stop having some lulls in our game, however, and become more consistent.
“I thought we did an excellent job bouncing back after our loss to Battle Creek by taking it to them right away. O’Neill held a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, which was smaller than the last time we played them, but they made 18-of-20 free throws to prevent our comeback. Saturday, we got off to another great start against a team that beat us earlier in the season. The boys played a nice, poised second half, something we didn’t do last time we faced them.
“It was three tough games in three days, with little practice time,” Harris added. “We were fortunate enough to have faced all three teams prior, so we knew what to expect.”
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