Cardinals in NEN Shootout final

Carter JohnsonThe 2013 Great Northeast Nebraska Shootout holiday basketball tournament came down to a Mid-State Conference shootout between Boone Central/Newman Grove and Wayne.
The BC/NG Cardinals (7-2) began their post-holiday schedule with victories over Laurel-Concord-Coleridge and West Point-Beemer Friday and Saturday, setting up a tournament championship showdown against the Blue Devils Monday night at Wayne State College.

BC/NG 70, L-C-C 45
As the old saying goes, all’s well that ends well.
Boone Central/Newman Grove got off to a sluggish start Friday against Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, but used a dominant second-half performance to score a 70-45 victory.
L-C-C held the lead through much of the first quarter. In fact, BC/NG did not take a lead until less than four minutes remained in the opening half. The Cardinals cranked up their defensive pressure in the second half, however, and put the Bears away with a 40-21 blitz.
Senior Tyler Hedlund carried the Cardinal offense in the first half with a pair of 3-point field goals and 13 points. He continued to have the hot hand following intermission, getting support from Pierce Koch (7) and Carter Johnson (5) in a 22-point third period.
BC/NG Coach Dan Zoucha was pleased with the way his team finished.
“We had a very slow start and they got off to a quick start. We got better midway through the second quarter and this carried into the second half,” Zoucha noted. “We changed up our press in the second half and looked to ‘run and jump’ when we could, and this caused them some problems. As our defense got more intense, it allowed us to get some transition points. That helped change the momentum of the game.
“Our effort was great again and we took care of the ball while playing at a pretty quick pace.”

BC/NG 68, WP-B 54
Another slow start. Another furious finish.
Boone Central/Newman Grove used runs of 13-1 and 9-0 to outpace pesky West Point-Beemer 68-54 Saturday and advance to the NEN Shootout title game.
The Cardinals struggled early against West Point-Beemer’s aggressive zone defense, but received a spark with long-range shooting in the second period. Koch nailed a pair of 3-point shots, Johnson and Hedlund each added a field goal from deep, and BC/NG used a 13-1 spurt to erase a six-point deficit and take a 28-24 lead at intermission.
The Cadets battled back and had the game tied at 35-35, but Gentrup’s back-to-back treys helped ignite a 9-0 Card run late in the third period that produced a 46-39 lead entering the final stanza. BC/NG dispelled any WP-B comeback hopes with a 22-point fourth quarter, as Johnson nailed two more 3-pointers and Koch dropped 3-of-4 free throws.
“We got down 21-15 in the second quarter. During a timeout, we challenged the team to step up the effort. We then went on a 13-1 run. We did not change what we were doing, just how we were doing it,” Zoucha stated. “In the second half, we went more fullcourt man-to-man and this helped pick up the tempo. We started hitting some shots to open up the game, which gave the entire team a lift.
“Our overall effort was great again.”

Further details in Print & Online editions of Albion News