TIME OUT by Joe Flanagan

Or not.
One of the great things about athletics is that we never know what might happen. Our sports competitions keep us guessing. It’s part of what draws us, keeps us on the edge of our seats.
But, c’mon, who could have imagined that Boone Central’s 2010 first-round game in the girls state basketball tournament would be nearly a carbon copy of the Cardinals’ 2009 state tourney contest? What were the odds?
It was almost as if ‘09 was an audition and, having garnered the role, the Cards played it to perfection in 2010. We all know, however, Boone Central coaches and players certainly wanted no part in mirroring last year’s disappointment.
Crazy. That’s athletics.
It’s a shame too. In the second half of both games, the Cardinals proved just how good they could be. Unfortunately, each time, they were in holes too deep to realistically recover from.
Man, those first halves!
Next time in Lincoln, maybe Coach Mike Kennedy needs to somehow convince his charges that the opening tip is actually the beginning of the third quarter.
Just a thought.
Seriously, though, just as in 2009, Boone Central’s second-half performance against a Lutheran team that pushed semi-final foe Wahoo to the limit, then won Saturday’s third-place game, proved the Cardinals belong in any conversation of Class C1’s elite teams.
C1 might well have been the most competitive class in the state tournament – and beyond. Final C1 Top 10s in the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star certainly reflect this.
The World-Herald, after ranking Boone Central as high as 3rd earlier in the season, omitted the Cardinals from its final list, while the Journal-Star posted BC #7 following the state tourney.
Both dailies agreed on the top six – Wahoo Neumann, Wahoo, Lutheran High NE, Kearney Catholic, Crofton and Lincoln Christian (though inverting Crofton and Christian at 5-6). They differed in #’s 7-10, with the OWH ranking Hastings St. Cecelia 7th and including Southern Valley at #8 ahead of Bennington and Ashland-Greenwood. The LJS put Boone Central ahead of Bennington and A-G, with St. Cecelia 10th and Southern Valley on the outside looking in.
I tend to agree with the Journal-Star on this one. Personally, I find Southern Valley’s resume lacking ever-so-slightly, although I’m sure the 19-3 Eagles were a quality team.
In comparison, Boone Central  (20-4) suffered losses only to C1 #3 Lutheran NE, C2 state runner-up Hartington C.C. and #3 West Point C.C., and Mid-State rival Norfolk Catholic. The Cards also scored victories over H.C.C. and Catholic, and had seven total victories over plus-.500  teams.
Southern Valley’s losses were certainly to quality opponents – Kearney Catholic, St. Cecelia and C2 #5 Superior – but only one of its victories over plus-.500 foes was at the C1 level and two of those wins were by fairly narrow margins over Class D2 Hitchcock County. Also, the Eagles were hammered by St. Cecelia (75-37), which lost to 11-10 Pierce – a team Boone Central defeated by double digits.
Advantage Cardinals.
All in all, I’d say BC deserved a ranking somewhere between 7-9 – another impressive campaign, especially when you consider the Cards began the season with just one starter returning from the 21-3 state tourney squad that finished 2009 ranked 4th.

And, as I mentioned in this space last week, this run of Lady Cardinal success figures to continue.
You can never confidently predict district championships and state tournament berths, or even wild card qualification. There are too many variables that annually derail state tourney hopes – district assignments, injuries, just plain luck (of the bad sort).
However, it’s not a stretch to expect another stellar season for the Boone Central girls in 2010-11. All the ingredients are there.
The Cards will again be led by Bobbi Beckwith, one of the finest this program has had – in fact, by next season, just possibly the best all-around player in Albion/Boone Central girls basketball history.
She’ll be joined by a sophomore class – again, one of the deepest and best in recent memory – that boasted a pair of 2010 starters and no less than five significant varsity contributors.
Add some talented freshmen for further depth. Consider the experience and momentum gained from these past two campaigns.
Yes, I expect the Lady Cards to be good. Quite good.
But that’s all a year away. For now, Boone Central coaches, players and fans can warmly reflect on the terrific season gone by – even with a somewhat disappointing finish.
State tourney trips and 20-4 seasons don’t come easily. They should be celebrated and enjoyed.