Three-point shooting and turnovers.
Both went against the Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals Monday night during a second-half surge by Kearney Catholic that propeled the Stars to a 72-52 victory over BC/NG in the C1-5 District championship game at Aurora High School.
After the teams battled to a near stalemate in the first half, Kearney Catholic ballooned a two-point halftime edge into a 12-point lead by outscoring Boone Central/Newman Grove 26-16 in the third period.
Hunter Osentowski, who finished 5-of-6 from 3-point range overall, nailed three long-distance shots during the Stars’ third-period run and Brady Holtmeier scored eight points, including a trey with three seconds remaining in the quarter following a Kearney Catholic steal.
Boone Central/Newman Grove tried to punch back, cutting the deficit to 55-48 on a Carter Henry drive with 4:23 to play. Kearney Catholic immediately unleashed a 10-0 run, however, putting the Cardinals in a hole they could not dig out of.
When Kearney Catholic (21-5) heated up in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the field and hitting 7-of-22 3-point attempts, BC/NG mostly shot blanks on a frustrating night. The Cards shot just 33 percent for the game, made only 50 percent of their free throws, and were a disastrous 2-of-22 beyond the arc.
Although Kearney Catholic could not handle big Cardinal center Jessie Sullivan in the paint in the first half – he scored 14 of BC/NG’s 25 points – the Stars limited the 6-4 junior to just four shots and two buckets over the final 16 minutes.
Sullivan did lead Boone Central/Newman Grove (15-9) with 19 points and nine rebounds. Cody Nelson was the only other Card in double figures with 13.
While the loss was disappointing, BC/NG Coach Justin Harris had positive comments about his team following the contest.
“For us to get to the district final is something I’m really happy with,” Harris said. “Obviously, it would have been nice to earn a trip to state, but we replaced four starters from last year, and some players stepped up this year in different roles.
“I’m looking forward to the future.”
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