Boone Central played two of its most exciting games of the basketball season in the C1-7 Sub-District tournament at Norfolk, with the Cardinals’ campaign ending in a gut-wrenching loss to Battle Creek Tuesday.
Boone Central and Madison entertained fans Monday, Feb. 24, in a game to advance to the C1-7 semifinal bracket. The Cardinals survived a fast-paced, seesaw contest and prevailed 80-75 with clutch play in overtime.
Boone Central and the Dragons traded quarter success, the Cardinals rebounding from deficits in the second and fourth periods. Boone Central outscored the Dragons 21-16 in the second quarter to edge ahead 32-30 at halftime, and Madison responded in the third with a 21-11 run. The Cardinals again had the upper hand in the final stanza (22-14) and forced overtime, then poured in 15 points in the extra period.
“It was an up-and-down game where we had 70 field goal attempts and 37 free throws. We struggled with turnovers and missed some shots in the paint that could have opened the game up early,” said Cardinal Coach Justin Harris. “We had a poor third quarter, but fought back in the fourth. Ryan (Kramer) did a good job of attacking and getting to the foul line in the fourth to help close the gap.”
Freshman Alex Christo carried much of the Card scoring load in the first half, tallying six points in the first quarter and seven in the second. He added six more in the third period before senior Chase Thieman and Kramer broke loose in the fourth. Thieman scored six points in the paint while Kramer tallied two baskets and drained all eight of his free throw attempts.
Kramer made one of Boone Central’s two 3-point buckets in overtime and scored five points overall. Thieman and Logan Hodges added four apiece to help push the Cardinals to victory.
Boone Central made 28-of-56 2-point field goal attempts, but was just 2-of-14 from 3-point range. The Cards, 18-of-37 overall, struggled early at the free throw line, but did sink 12-of-17 in the fourth quarter and OT.
Monday’s drama set up a spirited semifinal battle Tuesday that Battle Creek was able to hold on and win 57-54.
The Braves controlled play for much of the first half, taking an early 14-9 advantage and leading 30-22 at intermission. Boone Central picked up the pace in the third period, as Blaine Young and Hodges hit 3-pointers. Battle Creek fended off the Card challenge after leading by as much as 13 points and carried a 45-38 lead into the final eight minutes.
Showing no quit, Boone Central made a furious rally in the final stanza, shaving the Braves’ lead to three points as Young drained a pair of key 3-pointers. Boone Central had two chances in the final seconds to pull even, but could not cash in.
“We made a run to cut the lead to three, then Battle Creek intentionally fouled with four seconds to play,” Harris recalled. “We made both free throws, even though we attempted to miss the second. We fouled and they made both free throws.
“We were able to get the ball to halfcourt, then get a timeout to draw up a play and inbounds from there. Battle Creek had a good defensive alignment that caused us to force a deep three that missed.
“We had too many empty possessions late in the third and early part of the fourth. Free throw shooting cost us – Battle Creek was 16-of-21 to our 7-of-14. I thought we played well enough to win, but missed out on some scoring opportunities. Our kids battled back and had a chance at the end.”
Boone Central had respectable shooting numbers – 13-of-26 2-point field goals, 7-of-21 3-point attempts – but was outscored by those crucial nine points at the free throw line. The Cardinals also committed 16 turnovers and 17 personal fouls.
Despite the final heartbreak, Harris was encouraged by his young team’s efforts in 2019-20, despite a 7-17 record.
“I’m happy with the improvement we had throughout the season and how we finished up,” he commented. “I thought our seniors – Chase, Blaine, Logan and Dylan – did a great job of contributing in their own ways and performed even better than expected.”
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