The Chadron Cardinals’ girls’ basketball team earned their way to the class C1-12 championship game by way of a 47-36 defeat of the Gordon-Rushville Mustangs Feb. 13 but were outmatched by the Mitchell Tigers for the third time this season, suffering a season-ending 28-9 loss.
In their previous games with the Tigers this season, Chadron was overrun to the tune of a 60-19 loss to begin the season, and a 61-17 loss in their first game of the new year.
Knowing the Cardinals didn’t match up well against Mitchell, Chadron coach Jonn McClain knew he had to alter his team’s strategy if they were to come out with a win.
Much to the chagrin of those in attendance, Chadron’s strategy of holding on to the ball in the offensive zone attempted to suppress Mitchell’s key player, 6’3” Keyana Wilfred, and the rest of the team’s high-powered offense, at the expense of scoring chances for the Cardinals.
Compounding the lack of excitement for those in attendance, Mitchell coach Tory Schwartz was unwilling to break his team out of a zone defense and pressure the Cardinal ball carrier, leaving a Red Bird methodically dribbling in one spot near the top of the offensive zone for minutes at a time.
To McLain’s credit, the strategy was nearly successful as his team was able to hold the Tigers to only 11 points in the first half; but the Lady Cards were unable to capitalize on any of their few first-half shot attempts.
The Cardinals opened up the game in the second half, attempting to close the gap, but by the time the final buzzer sounded Chadron had hit only two three-pointers, a single two-pointer, and a lone free throw.
The 28-9 final score was the Cardinals’ lowest margin of defeat against the Tiger’s this season, and despite being double-covered or held stationary for much of the game, Mitchell’s Wilfred was able to break into double-digit scoring, leading all players with 10 points.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals end their season with a winning record (11-10). They’ll look to bounce back next season when they’re scheduled to return nearly all of their starters as senior Dana Dunbar is the only member of the team to graduate this year.