After another competitive loss at O’Neill Friday extended Boone Central’s hard-luck losing streak to five games, the Cardinals got the monkey off their backs with a home court victory over Wayne Saturday.
The Cardinals played on even terms with a good O’Neill team, but lost a fourth quarter lead for the third straight game and dropped a 58-54 decision.
O’Neill (8-3) hit a buzzer-beater to take a six-point halftimne lead, 33-27, but Boone Central used defensive pressure to fight back in the third period and trailed by just two points entering the final stanza. The Cardinals took the lead midway through the fourth, but the Eagles sank 11-of-14 free throws and scored 19 points to pull out the victory.
“Another frustrating game in a sense that we had the lead in the fourth quarter for the third game in a row, but lost,” acknowledged Cardinal Coach Andy Imus. “The girls need to continue to play consistently on each end of the floor and not have a defensive breakdown here or a poor offensive possession there.
“They are doing a better job of understanding the things that are costing them in close games. Hopefully we learn from it and get better because of it going forward.”
Boone Central did not leave any doubt about victory Saturday, bolting to an early 12-5 lead and finishing with second-half 12-4 and 13-7 runs in a 53-36 win over visiting Wayne (4-9).
The Cardinals did hit a rough stretch in the second period after their fast start. With Wayne giving extra defensive attention to Lauren Hedlund, Luettel stepped up to hit several big shots and score eight eight points, allowing BC to maintain a 28-18 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils clawed back to within 28-22 in the third period, helped by several Card turnovers, but the hosts responded with a 12-4 run and 40-26 advantage. Boone Central used its own defensive pressure to score six points off five Wayne turnovers to spark a 13-7 fourth-period run that sealed the decision.
“We did not get the start we wanted beginning the third quarter. It was partially a lack of energy – a Saturday afternoon game after getting home late from a gut-puncing loss, and the girls needed to find some ways to manufacture some energy,” Imus commented. “Our defensive pressure again forced some turnovers and we were able to get some momentum. “A game where we will keep learning things that will help us improve going forward.”
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