Third time not a charm for Cards – O’Neill ends Boone season in C1-7 showdown

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.”

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