TIME OUT with Joe Flanagan

Season of promise fulfilled

What’s the old saying – “all’s well that ends well?”
The Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals, on their way to the 2013 state basketball tournament in Lincoln, would buy that.
What a finish Monday! What a district championship performance! What a season!

It certainly hasn’t been all smooth sailing, though. There have been bumps in the road, peaks and valleys, highs and lows. During the course of the season – and often within individual games. Consistency has not exactly been the calling card for the Cards.
Resiliency has, however. And toughness. Grit. Determination.
It wasn’t always easy, but Boone Central/Newman Grove earned this district championship. In many ways, that makes it all the sweeter.

This was an anticipated season, full of promise before it even began.
BC/NG was ranked highly by the state’s daily publications prior to the season, expected to be the favorite in the rugged Mid-State Conference and one of the top state contenders in Class C1.
And why not? The Cardinals seemingly had all the ingredients for success. Size. Quickness. Skill. Experience. Depth.
Then, 0-2.
Maybe not a big deal in a 24-game season, and obviously resulting from a lack of practice time and shooting touch due to the quick turnaround from their state football championship game appearance, but certainly not the way a team wants to begin a promising campaign.

It didn’t take long for the Cards to regroup and right the ship, rattling off seven straight victories. Now that was what everyone expected.
But wait, hiccups against Mid-State foes Wayne and O’Neill over the course of three games – the latter on BC/NG’s home court.
Uh, oh.
Did I mention this team is resilient?
Payback wins over the Blue Devils and Eagles sandwiched another winning streak, this one eight straight. Then, just when it appeared the Big Red Express was firmly on track, a coveted Mid-State Tournament title slipped through the Cardinals’ grasp with a ragged performance against Class C2 Hartington Cedar Catholic.
Ensuing road victories over tough foes Doniphan-Trumbull and Lutheran High NE eased worries among BC/NG faithful again. Yet, just when it appeared the Cards were building momentum for a post-season run, oops, a home-court loss to 8-13 Crofton to close the regular season.
Peaks and valleys, indeed. Not exactly the way you want to enter do-or-die district play. But, a wake-up call, maybe?

Showing no panic and plenty of poise, BC/NG responded with performances in the sub-district and district finals Friday and Monday that pretty well summed up the 2012-13 Cardinal season as a whole.
What were those attributes again? Resiliency. Toughness. Grit. Determination.
All culminated in a second half of basketball Monday when the Cardinals looked like exactly what they are – one of the best teams in Class C1.
No, it hasn’t always been pretty. There have been plenty of twists and turns – times when it looked like the Cardinals may have lost track of those road signs pointing to Lincoln.
A group of coaches and players had no doubts – no fears – however.

Pretty? Say the words – Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals, state tournament bound.

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