South Sioux City guard Mike Gesell said the Cardinals didn’t fold under the intense pressure applied by Lincoln Pius X in Friday night’s semifinal for two reasons.

“We’ve had a lot of tough games this year,” he said. “And I think it makes a difference that we were here last year.”

The Cardinals, who will play for their second straight Class B crown Saturday night, have had their share of close calls this season. That goes for wins (Norris 76-74, Beatrice 71-69, Omaha Gross 77-68 in overtime) and losses (MOC-Floyd Valley Iowa 83-80, Bellevue East 87-83 in triple overtime).

South Sioux City also had an intense trip to state in 2010, defeating Omaha Skutt in overtime to claim its first title.

The Cardinals held on to win 50-47 on Friday night, even though the Thunderbolts held them to a season-low point total.

“This is the stuff you dream about when you’re little,” Gesell said. “It feels good to be playing for the title again.”

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