In the end, the Cardinals win.
Boone Central/Newman Grove was pressured by Class D2 #6 Spalding Academy and a tough Lutheran High NE squad last week, but used a third-quarter blitz to run away from the Knights Tuesday and a strong finish Friday to subdue the stubborn Eagles.
With the victories, the Cardinals improved to 17-5 in 2013-14 and climbed back to #1 in this week’s Omaha World-Herald Class C1 Top 10.
Many area fans wondered what would happen in a rare meeting of D2 Top 10 Spalding/Academy and C1 Top 10 Boone Central/Newman Grove.
In a furiously-paced contest featuring full-court pressure defense and fast-break offense by both teams, BC/NG’s superior length and depth – and a blistering third period from behind the 3-point arc – carried the day.
“The Knights have a very good team. Their ability to press and push the ball presented a big challenge,” said Card Coach Dan Zoucha. “We knew they would come out with a lot of energy and that was evident in the first quarter. While we put up a good number, they were able to answer.
“At halftime, we discussed the importance of keeping the tempo up and keeping the pressure on. The third quarter was one of our best shooting quarters of the year. We were 7-of-8 from 3-point range and that gave us a big boost. Along with our ability to force some turnovers, we were able to change the momentum of the game.
“We were very happy with our performance. The gym had an awesome atmosphere – one we had not seen in some time.”
Win number 17 did not come easily for Boone Central/Newman Grove Friday. The Cardinals needed a 22-point fourth quarter to put away a 56-51 victory over an athletic Lutheran High NE (10-11) squad.
The Cardinals probably wished they would have saved some of their 47 percent 3-point accuracy against Spalding/Academy, as they hit just 5-of-19 tries behind the arc Friday.
They got three of those five in the fourth period, however, including a key pair by Travis Kennedy, who tallied 11 points in the decisive quarter.
“LHNE has been able to hang with many of the same teams we have played. Their point guard is very good and their post has good size,” Zoucha commented. “We thought we allowed some dribble penetration we have been able to stop by similar teams. We were also sluggish on offense in the first half. While their zone did not cause undue stress, it did slow us down and we were not shooting great from 3-point range.
“We hit three big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. We were also able to get to the free throw line – something we did not do in the first half.
“This was a nice win for our seniors on parents’ night. They have done a great job this season.”
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