Close. Oh, so close.
The Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals were just eight minutes from capturing a Mid-State Conference tournament championship Saturday, all even with Battle Creek, 38-38. One quarter, winner take all.
Unfotunately for the Cardinals, it was Battle Creek that made the plays and shots in that final stanza, outscoring BC/NG 17-10 for a 55-48 victory.
“Very different than our last contest with them,” Cardinal Coach Justin Harris noted of a 77-51 Jan. 26 loss to the Braves. “Battle Creek is a good team that has a difficult district, as well.
“It was a good game, but we need to find a way to win games like this, as we did against Mt. Michael and Broken Bow.”
Battle Creek Coach Trevor Anderson termed Saturday night at Norfolk’s Northeast Community College “a championship atmosphere.” Befitting such a description, the contest was a tense battle of twists and turns that featured seven lead changes in the first quarter alone.
Carter Henry’s seven second-period points, including a 3-pointer, kept the Cardinals even until Battle Creek’s Bailey McLean’s three-point play on an offensive rebound sparked the Braves to a 27-21 halftime lead.
Boone Central/Newman Grove fired right back following intermission, reeling off a 7-0 run for a 28-27 edge. Jessie Sullivan scored four times in the paint in the third quarter as the teams battled back-and-forth.
That’s when the Cardinals were “stoned.” Battle Creek senior guard Stone Kraft sank a 3-point shot while falling out of bounds to produce the 38-38 tie at the end of the third, then began the fourth quarter with seven straight points for the Braves. Teammate Devon Beckman added a short jump shot to give Battle Creek a 47-40 advantage with just under five minutes to play.
Dylan Gentrup swished a 3-pointer of his own and followed with a steal-and-layup to close the gap to 47-45, but BC/NG could muster just three more points in the final two minutes against Battle Creek’s zone defense.
Beckman scored again on a fast break and the Braves sank all four free throws on a pair of one-and-one situations in the closing stretch to secure the victory and conference championship.
Further details in Print & Online editions of Albion News