The Boone Central Cardinals salvaged their Mid-State Confernce tournament week to an extent, bouncing back from an excruciating opening loss to win two consolation bracket games and finish fifth in the annual event.
Boone, seeded #5, had #4 Hartington Cedar Catholic on the ropes Tuesday, but could not put the Trojans away and lost a 55-53 heartbreaker when Cedar Catholic rallied late.
The Cardinals also could not stop Cedar Catholic standout Jaxson Bernecker, who poured in 35 of the Trojans’ 55 points. Bernecker kept HCC (17-4) close with seven points in the first quarter, then added 10 in the second period as the Trojans knotted the halftime score at 29-all. He was just getting started. Bernecker nailed a pair of 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the third to keep Cedar Catholic within one. The Trojans, with Bernecker scoring another five points, made a strong run in the final stanza and were able to hold off Boone Central’s final push.
“I thought we did a lot of good things, but we didn’t finish at the rim the way we needed to,” said Card Coach Justin Harris. “We led for a good portion of the game, but they made a run in the fourth quarter we were unable to overcome.”
In consolation action, Boone Central put it all together Friday, building a solid lead and finishing with a fourth-quarter blitz and 75-45 victory over Guardian Angels Central Catholic (5-13).
“We made a nice run in the second quarter to help us feel in control,” Harris noted. “We didn’t shoot well from the 3-point line, but finished with 58 points in the paint. They tried to pressure us in the fourth, which led to easy layups.”
Boone Central (13-7) defeated Battle Creek 71-53 in its final game before the Mid-State tournament. The Braves, employing wonky defensive tricks, put up a stiffer fight in Saturday’s fifth place game before bowing to the Cards 59-51.
With seven Cardinals scoring points, Boone outscored Battle Creek (7-12) 18-10 in the second quarter and seemed in control with a 35-26 halftime lead. The Braves trimmed the margin to 46-41 in the third period, put could not complete the rally, scoring just 10 points in the final eight minutes.
“They played a triangle-and-two defense and I did not have us prepared for it. I thought the players adjusted well, as we cut and attacked well at times,” Harris stated. “We had good looks that just didn’t fall that day. Fortunately we shot 15-of-19 at the free throw line.
“It wasn’t the game we anticipated, but we did what we needed to win, and that is important this time of year.”
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