An old adage in athletics reasons that it’s very hard for a team to beat a comparable opponent three times in a season – and that often seems to be the case.
Boone Central, however, literally turned over a chance to reverse its fortunes and defeat the O’Neill Eagles in the C1-7 Sub-District tournament at Pierce High School Feb. 21.
O’Neill (17-7), which edged the Cardinals twice during the regular season, added a 55-42 victory in the C1-7 that ended Boone Central’s 2022-23 season. Boone (17-7) hampered itself in the contest, with twice the number of turnovers as the Eagles – one of several keys to the outcome.
O’Neill also thrived at the free throw line, scoring 42 percent of its points at the charity stripe.
It ended up a disappointing night and finish for Boone Central, which actually had a great start in the postseason game.
With it’s frenetic pressure defense and pace offensively, the Cardinals took a 13-6 lead in the opening eight minutes behind nine combined points by Brant Benes (5) and Alex Christo (4). Boone had an 18-8 lead deep into the second quarter before a 3-pointer by Ryder Pokorny and several closing free throws by Eagle star Landon Classen pulled O’Neill within three, 22-19, at intermission.
The script flipped in the third period. It was Boone Central that could muster only six points, while O’Neill fired a barrage of long-range bombs to take a 35-28 advantage. Pokorny hit two more from deep, and a trio of successive 3-pointers by Classen, Drew Morrow and Pokorny sparked the Eagle run.
Boone tried to claw back in the final stanza with Christo and fellow senior Ryan Drueppel sinking 3-point shots, and Ben Reilly scoring five points, but with time running out and the Cardinals forced to foul, O’Neill paraded to the free throw line and dropped in 13-of-16 to seal the win. Classen was perfect from the stripe (8-of-8) in the quarter and scored 10 of his game-high 21 points.
It was a game in which Boone shot the ball well (45% overall and 55% from 2-point range), but was outscored by a staggering 23-2 margin at the foul line.
“I thought we did a great job of executing our game plan. O’Neill was still able to get to the line much more often than we were,” rued Cardinal Coach Justin Harris. “They shot a really high percentage from the line. We scored well in the paint on some good attacks. However, turnovers were costly, as we had over twice as many as O’Neill.”
Further details and stats in Print & Online editions of Albion News/Boone County Tribune