Not the way it was supposed to end.
After blitzing St. Paul 72-34 in the opening round of the C1-9 Sub-District tournament at Grand Island Northwest High School Tuesday, #1 seed Boone Central/Newman Grove was stymied by a tenacious Grand Island Central Catholic defensive effort in Thursday’s sub final, ending the Cardinals’ season with a 43-40 loss.
Boone Central/Newman Grove (15-8) got off to a good start Thursday, taking an 11-6 lead in the first quarter, before G.I.C.C. turned the momentum in period two. The Crusaders edged ahead 21-20 by halftime and BC/NG could never completely get its offensive rhythm back following intermission.
“I was very proud of the boys, as their effort was outstanding,” praised first-year Cardinal Coach Justin Harris. “We got off to the start we wanted, but we were unable to maintain the lead we built.
“G.I.C.C. hit a couple threes, where we lost track of them, that helped them climb back into the game. Their patience on offense hurt us offensively, as we had trouble getting into an offensive flow the way we like.
“We ended up playing a lot more defense than offense, and we got a disappointing outcome.”
BC/NG was able to tally just five points in the third quarter, allowing Central Catholic to take a lead late in the period that it never relinquished. The Crusaders did not make a field goal in the fourth quarter, but sank 14-of-18 free throws when BC/NG was forced to foul.
Kyle Kramer’s 3-point field basket cut a six-point deficit in half with three minutes to play, but G.I.C.C. immediately responded with two free throws. The Cardinals were whistled for a key offensive foul late in the contest, sandwiched between four Central Catholic free throws. That flurry gave the Crusaders the final five-point cushion they needed to secure the victory.
Although it was obviously not the way the Cardinals wanted to close their campaign, Harris said he felt his team progressed during a challenging season.
“We continued to get better throughout the season, as our defense was much better at the end, compared to the beginning,” he noted. “Our shooting from the 3-point line improved dramatically. We shot 24% our first seven games and 38% in the games after that.
“I thought the kids handled a tough schedule well, although we definitely wanted a different outcome in a few games. I would like to thank the boys for their efforts. I was proud of our seniors.”
Boone Central/Newman Grove reached the final by getting a sizzling sub-district start against St. Paul Tuesday. The Cardinals exploded to a 27-2 lead by the end of the first period and rolled to a 72-34 victory.
“I thought we did exactly what we needed to – take control of the game and diminish their hope,” Harris commented. “We did an excellent job of sharing the ball throughout the game.
“We like to play up-tempo. We thought we could do that well, and thought our pressure could give them problems, so that was the focus. I thought the kids did a good job of that, especially in the first quarter.”
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