In the second game of the Boys Class B Tournament, it was the four-seed Elkhorn Antlers (18-7), taking on the five-seed Crete Cardinals (18-6). These teams met once in the regular season, and it was Elkhorn who won that one. It would be a different story this time, as Crete would win this first-round contest 66-61. Crete’s 1-3-1 zone defense, headed by Jabin Gardiner, and occasionally his brother Justus, played a big part in the win.
This game was played at a frantic pace. Both teams ran the floor, forced turnovers, and hit big shots. Elkhorn was led by Colin Comstock and Ethan Yungtum in the first; they each had five. Crete was spreading their points around; five different players scored in the first quarter for the Cardinals. After one quarter, this game was knotted up 13-13.
Crete exploded out of the gates in the second quarter. An eight-point run, including a thunderous Jabin Gardiner dunk, was only halted when Elkhorn was forced to take a time-out. It wouldn’t do much as Crete continued to control this game for the rest of the half. The quarter ended on a three-point buzzer-beater by Justus Gardiner. After a thrilling second quarter, Crete would take a 36-23 lead into the half.
It was more of the same in the third quarter. Both teams went back and forth as the game got chippy. Elkhorn’s Ethan Yungtum had a big quarter scoring ten. Crete continued to score with a variety of options. The Cardinals had six players with five or more points as they held a 48-35 lead going into the final quarter.
It looked like it was game over early in the fourth as Elkhorn had no answers for the Cardinals. That was until a big Elkhorn run cut a fifteen-point lead to single digits in less than a minute. Elkhorn continued to chip into the lead and cut it to just six with 30 seconds left. Crete survived the late surge by the Antlers and won 66-61.
Aidan McDowell powered Crete, and Benjamin Ehlers was the co-leading scorer for the Cardinals with 13. Jabin Gardiner, who spearheaded the Crete defense, also played well, scoring 10. Despite the loss, Elkhorn had the game’s two leading scorers. Colin Comstock had 23, and Ethan Yungtum had 24.
With this win, the Crete Cardinals will advance and take on Omaha Skutt in the semis.