Featuring a playoff atmosphere made more exciting by an extra session, the Borgia basketball Knights edged Pacific Tuesday night at The Reservation in Pacific, 60-58.
Adam Meyer took a bounce pass from Zac Schweissguth and scored a layup with 12 seconds to play to lift the Knights (10-3) over the host Indians (9-4).
“It was a great effort by both teams,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “Obviously, it was tight the whole way. The second half we went back and forth. It could have gone either way. We were fortunate to win in overtime.”
Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer said it was a great game.
“I think the first quarter was a difference in the game,” VanLeer said. “We got outscored 12-6. We outplayed them after that and took it to overtime even though they had the lead. A break here or there made a difference in the game.”
Both schools brought large student crowds and they kept the event at a festive roar throughout the night.
“This is how high school basketball is supposed to be,” VanLeer said. “I think sometimes we build these big gyms that are too big. Ours is about the size where if you get it full, it’s pretty loud. Big gyms are nice if you can fill them. In a lot of gyms, a crowd like this wouldn’t have been very big. This is the way it’s supposed to be. Our students were involved, their students were involved. Everything seemed to be clean and everybody had fun.”
“You’ve just got to look at the atmosphere of the place,” Neier said. “There was a huge student body on both sides. The fans just packed the place. It was loud the whole game. I don’t think there was a moment where it was quiet. It was a tremendous atmosphere for our kids to be able to play in. Hopefully it helps us to get ready for the type of atmosphere we will see further down the line.”
Don’t worry if you missed this game. The teams could meet again as soon as next week. They’re the top two seeds for the Union Tournament.
“We have to make sure we get better in each game and every practice since we could see them again next week,” Neier said.
“We’re not happy with the loss,” VanLeer said. “We’re going to come to practice every day and be reminded about how bad this hurts right now. We’re going to get better.”
Borgia led 12-6 at the end of one quarter, but things tightened up from there. The Knights took a 24-22 lead to the locker room at the half before Pacific took the advantage in the third quarter. The Indians led 40-37 after three quarters with a free throw from Zach Kraus and a buzzer-beating basket from Tristan Moore being the difference.
Pacific led for much of the fourth quarter before Borgia fought back. Trailing 45-44, the Knights got the ball back after a charge call. Joe Helfrich was fouled and hit both free throws to put Borgia on top with 3:33 to play, 46-45.
Cullen VanLeer responded with two free throws for the Indians 10 seconds later to put the Indians back in front, 47-46.
Walton Eckelkamp gave Borgia another lead with 2:17 to play, 48-47.
With 1:16 to play, Schweissguth scored and was fouled, but couldn’t make the free throw. Borgia led 50-47.
VanLeer scored again with 1:07 to play and the Indians responded with a steal, but couldn’t score.
Schweissguth netted another basket and then shot one free throw to make it 53-49 with 35.5 seconds to play.
The Indians roared to life. Jeffrey Hinkle scored with 25.8 seconds to play. After a Borgia turnover, Pacific had to call two timeouts in the final 11 seconds, but got the ball to Hinkle, who scored from the left block to send the game into overtime tied at 53-53.
“We just had to get excited about playing again,” Neier said. “We got to play a little bit longer. In this atmosphere, we wanted to make the most of it. Both teams showed a lot of character.”
First points in overtime went to the Indians as Tanner Brown nailed a three-point shot with 2:36 to play in the extra session. Helfrich replied with a basket and was fouled, but missed the free throw.
Hinkle made a huge save on the offensive baseline and that paid off when Noah Boyer scored to give Pacific a 58-55 advantage.
The Knights went back to work. Schweissguth hit a three-point basket with 1:08 to play, tying the game once again.
A foul away from the basket put VanLeer back at the line, but his attempt on a one-and-one situation bounded away. Borgia moved for its chance, which paid off when Schweissguth made a bounce pass to Meyer, who was cutting down the lane, for the winning basket with 12 seconds to play.
Pacific had a last chance, but couldn’t score and Borgia captured the win.
For the contest, Schweissguth led the Knights in scoring with 17 points despite missing part of the third quarter after being shaken up. He also had eight assists, six rebounds and one steal.
“Zac is our leader out there,” Neier said. “He’s such a strong kid that he’s hard to knock off the ball. We like to see the ball in his hands. He did a great job of getting some penetration and getting baskets, but also stopping and dishing off for other baskets.”
Eckelkamp scored 16 points for the Knights with three rebounds. Most of his points came on four three-point baskets.
Meyer scored 13 points while adding three blocked shots, two rebounds and one assist.
Helfrich recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
Clayton Voss scored Borgia’s other two points.
Others playing were Kevin Birk (two assists, one rebound and one steal), Tyler Breckenkamp, Spencer Juergens (one rebound) and Jake Neier.
“I think everyone contributed in a lot of ways,” Neier said.
Borgia struggled under pressure at the free-throw line as both sides were extremely loud when the other was shooting from the stripe. The Knights hit 11 of 21 attempts.
“We felt we would have an advantage inside and on the boards,” Neier said. “Pacific outhustled us, especially in the second half. They had a ton of offensive rebounds. We know we have a lot of work to do.”
VanLeer posted a double-double with 26 points and 16 rebounds. He scored 14 of his points during Pacific’s third quarter comeback. He hit four three-point baskets and knocked down all three attempts after being fouled on another three-point shot. For the game, he was 6-8 from the stripe.
VanLeer also had three assists and one steal.
“That’s Cullen,” VanLeer said. “Cullen has confidence. His teammates give him the ball at the right time and he knocks some shots down. He rebounded and scored well for us.”
Brown was next with 11 points. He was Pacific’s only scorer in the first quarter with all six points during that eight-minute session. He also had three rebounds and one steal.
“Tanner Brown had a great game,” VanLeer said. “When he started guarding Eckelkamp in the fourth quarter, he didn’t score much more.”
Hinkle scored eight points, all coming in the second and fourth quarters. He added five rebounds and two assists.
“If there’s a loose ball out there, he’s going to go get it,” VanLeer said. “He does a good job rebounding.”
Jacob Klenke and Boyer scored four points apiece. Klenke added two assists, one blocked shot and a rebound. Boyer had three rebounds and an assist.
Stephen Johnson and Moore each ended with two points. Johnson also had three rebounds and a blocked shot. Moore added three rebounds.
“I thought Stephen Johnson gave us some good minutes off the bench tonight, too,” VanLeer said. “He got some offensive rebounds in the first half and kept the ball alive for us to be able to score.”
Zach Kraus added one point, two assists, two rebounds and one steal. Logan Armstrong and Chris Klenke each had one assist and one steal.
“Everybody gave us good minutes up and down the lineup tonight,” said VanLeer.