Playing on the consolation side of the Washington Tournament bracket is unfamiliar territory for the Borgia Knights basketball team.
The third-seeded Knights got there with an opening round loss Tuesday to sixth-seeded Francis Howell Central 55-47, but bounced back Thursday in the consolation semifinals with a 64-43 victory over seventh-seeded Ft. Zumwalt East.
Borgia (7-6) takes on fourth-seeded St. Charles (11-5) in the consolation game Saturday at 4 p.m.
“We needed a win here after losing a few. Not that we’ve played terrible, but we haven’t been good enough to win,” said Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier. “St. Charles has a nice team. They shoot the ball outside and are very aggressive taking the ball to the basket. Defensively, they really get after it. Hopefully we’ll be prepared for it.”
Friday’s championship semifinals feature top-seeded Washington (11-4) against fifth-seeded Bayless (9-3) at 6 p.m. followed by Howell Central (5-8) against second-seeded Westminster (7-5) at 7:30 p.m.
The third-place game is scheduled for Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The championship contest follows at 7 p.m.
Ft. Zumwalt East
Borgia dominated the final 19 minutes of the game against Ft. Zumwalt East (4-8) to register the victory.
The Knights trailed 22-12 with 3:44 remaining in the second quarter, but outscored the Lions 52-21 for the remainder of the game, including 40-16 in the second half.
“It just felt good to get a win. Our kids got a little more confident in the second half and a little more aggressive,” Neier said. “We got the ball to the basket and pushed the ball up the court. When you get easier shots, that helps to lead to better offense. We got more confidence with all of our shots.”
After missing the first-round game with a rib injury, Jordan Miller returned to the lineup and led a balanced Borgia attack with 14 points, 10 in the second half.
Joe Helfrich finished the game with 13 points. Zachary Schweissguth added 11 points, 10 in the second half.
Casey Kuchem pitched in with nine points. John Baumstark netted eight points.
River Filla registered three points. Kevin Birk and Adam Meyer both scored two points. Tyler Breckenkamp and Collin Mantle both had one point.
After the score was tied 10-10 after one quarter, East’s Brett Sugar hit a half court shot to end the first half and give the Lions a 27-24 lead.
That play had no affect on the Knights, who controlled the second half, leading 44-36 after three quarters.
“In the second half, it seems like we were hustling better and getting after it harder. And that makes such a big difference,” Neier said. “Just the demeanor of the team. We felt confident in the second half and really went after it to win the ballgame.”
Borgia opened the tournament with the loss to Howell Central.
Once trailing by 10 points midway through the second quarter, Borgia tied the game 38-38 with 7:43 left in the fourth period, but couldn’t gain the lead.
Borgia played without Miller, who had a rib injury.
“You can’t use that as an excuse. Our kids played hard. We just didn’t have quite the focus it takes to beat a pretty good team,” Neier said. “They did a good job finding the open man. We knew the (Ryan) Howard kid outside was pretty tough and their best three-point shooter. We let him get open. Any time he got one, it seemed like it was at a crucial time. We would climb back into it and then all of a sudden he gets open for a three-pointer. It just takes more focus than what we had.”
Ryan Howard knocked down four three-pointers and finished with 16 points. Derrick Puni also scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Spartans.
Helfrich led Borgia with 12 points. Schweissguth gave the Knights a spark with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“Zach has really picked it up and helped us on offense in the last couple of games. He ended up with 13 points against Chaminade,” Neier said. “With Jordan back, hopefully we’ll have more of an offensive threat with Zach shooting the ball well.”
Baumstark collected eight points, three rebounds and two assists.
Kuchem added seven points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Meyer registered six points and three rebounds. Filla had three points and five rebounds. Birk grabbed three rebounds. Breckenkamp and Alex Moss also played.
Howell Central held leads of 19-12 after one quarter, 27-26 at halftime and 38-36 after three quarters.
“We have to find some kids who want to shoot from the outside and can knock down some shots for us,” Neier said. “We have some kids who do that in practice. It has to carry over into games. Hopefully that will start to happen.”
Defending tournament champion Westminster defeated Ft. Zumwalt East in Tuesday’s other first-round contest, 73-57.
Jack Dohr paced the Wildcats with 18 points. Grant Koby added 16 points. Shane Benes had 10 points.
The Lions were led by Ryan March, who scored 12 points. Tyrie Thomas added 10 points.