Neligh-Oakdale held off a surging Boyd County on Saturday afternoon to win the consolation final and finish third in the Niobrara Valley Conference tournament.
The Warriors (17-4) defeated 49-43 Boyd County (12-6) at West Holt for the third-place trophy in a conference tournament that's widely considered more difficult than most district tournaments.
Boyd County outscored Neligh-Oakdale 15-8 in the fourth quarter, forcing the Warriors to win the game from the free-throw line. Light on the fouls for most of the game, the Warriors didn't even go to the line once during the first three quarters. Neligh-Oakdale's first attempt from the charity stripe came with 4:16 left in the final stanza.
The Warriors were 0-for-3 at the line until Tyson Belitz went 1-of-2 from the line with just over 2 minutes to play to give Neligh-Oakdale a 47-41 advantage. Boyd County responded immediately with a basket to cut it to four points with 1:55 to play - the closest the game had been since the opening quarter.
Neligh-Oakdale was a mere 3-of-9 from the free-throw line for the game - all in the fourth quarter - but it was enough to seal the win.
Just two Spartans scored in the first half as Neligh-Oakdale held a dominating 25-12 advantage at the half. Both teams traded baskets in the third quarter with an even effort.
Neligh-Oakale 12 13 16 8 - 49
Boyd County 8 4 16 15 - 43