There never is an easy night at the Ameritime Classic.
Just ask the Borgia Knights.
Borgia (12-7) had to claw back to defeat the Parkway West Longhorns in the tournament’s third-place game, 50-45.
“I think the fact that we won two games in this tournament and played well in all three games is a confidence builder for our ballclub,” said Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier. “The competition we faced down here was exceptional. To come out with two wins was outstanding.”
Borgia jumped on top of Parkway West at Missouri Baptist University, leading 19-5 late in the first quarter.
“In this game, we got off to a hot start,” Neier said. “We passed the ball well at the beginning of the game, got some open shots, and were able to knock them down and got a sizeable lead.”
But the Longhorns chipped back slowly. Borgia led 30-22 at the half.
“They have a very good team and they started picking up the pace in that second quarter,” Neier said.
The Longhorns used a four-point play to cut into Borgia’s lead, but the Knights maintained an eight-point advantage at the break.
Parkway West tied it late in the quarter and took a one-point lead heading into the final period, 35-34.
“We went into the second half and play got a little more physical,” Neier said. “At times we didn’t handle it very well. We know that’s something we have to improve upon. They made it tough for us to get shots. Defensively we hung in there. We made some mistakes and gave them a few open shots, but overall, we did a pretty good job.”
Borgia went flat during the third quarter, netting just five points. Meanwhile, the Longhorns took advantage of every opportunity.
“We started standing around on defense,” Neier said. “They started setting some pretty good screens. We weren’t covering very well and we weren’t talking. We started watching instead of reacting. Our defense picked it up again and put a little more pressure again. At the end, we started to come up with some big rebounds. That made a huge difference. On offense, we got a little more aggressive and got to the basket. When we had a lead and they had to foul, we helped ourselves by putting some free throws in.”
Parkway West tied the game on a basket by Jerrod Williams and took the lead on a free throw by Dan Bartlett.
Junior Zac Schweissguth converted on a conventional three-point play 22 seconds into the fourth quarter and the Knights never trailed after that point.
“Different guys stepped up at different times during this game,” Neier said.
Down the stretch, Borgia edged ahead, but the Longhorns found ways to rally.
With the game tied at 43-43, senior Jordan Miller buried a three-point basket from the corner right in front of the Borgia bench. The shot came with just over 59 seconds to play and Borgia never trailed again.
Miller calmly hit two free throws with 22.7 seconds remaining to ice the victory.
The free throws weren’t the final points of the game, but they did give the Knights the five-point margin they were able to hold at the conclusion of the contest.
Miller and fellow senior forward Casey Kuchem represented the Knights on the all-tournament team.
“The honors really could have gone to some others on the team,” Neier said. “Those guys really play hard all of the time. They’re the leaders on our club, along with John Baumstark. I was happy for them, but it’s the team that really helps you out. Everybody has to chip in and do their job. When guys get on the all-tournament team, I look at it as a team accomplishment. What they did to gain those awards was well deserved.”
Cash McCurdy, a 6-5 senior forward, represented Parkway West on the all-tournament team.
The Knights face another difficult Archdiocesan Athletic Association contest Tuesday in St. Charles against Duchesne. Junior varsity action tips off at 5:30 p.m.
Duchesne (13-2, 4-0) leads the AAA Large Division and the Pioneers defeated Borgia Dec. 14 in Washington, 68-44.
Borgia, 3-1 in the league, has found more success since that point. The Knights have gone 8-4 since then with two of the losses coming by a combined three points.
A big part in Borgia’s improvement has been playing under control more often.
Borgia has worked on patiently running its offense and has limited turnovers. The Knights only gave up the ball eight times against Parkway West.
“We’ve got another big game coming on Tuesday against Duchesne,” Neier said. “Hopefully we can keep this progress going and give them a decent game.”
The Knights were led in scoring by Miller, who netted 18 points. He hit four of Borgia’s five three-point baskets in the game and was perfect from the free-throw line, hitting all four chances. He added three steals, two assists and a rebound.
“Jordan Miller had a great all-around game,” Neier said. “He hit some great shots, especially the three he hit in the last minute of the game to give us the lead. That was just huge.”
Schweissguth scored 13 points while recording two assists, two steals and one rebound.
“Zac Schweissguth really is coming through with some big plays,” Neier said. “He had two big baskets late in the game to help us maintain the lead.”
Kuchem chipped in with seven points while adding five rebounds, two steals and one assist during his time on the floor. He had to sit out with foul trouble for parts of the game and fouled out with 1:15 to play.
“Casey was a little erratic at times, but he came through with big plays when we needed them,” Neier said.
Senior John Baumstark scored six points and pulled down nine rebounds with two assists and a steal.
“John Baumstark gave us some tremendous rebounding in the first half,” Neier said.
Junior Joe Helfrich ended with five points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal. Four of his rebounds came on the offensive end.
“In the second half, Joe Helfrich gave us some good defense inside,” said Neier.
Junior Kevin Birk hit the game’s final free throw with 2.1 seconds to play. He also had two rebounds and a steal.
Senior River Filla and junior Adam Meyer also played, but did not score.
“We had some guys come in off the bench in this tournament and help out,” said Neier. “Kevin Birk just seems to play well. He is a great team player and talks on defense. Adam Meyer has given us some quality minutes inside. River Filla gave us good minutes to give guys rests. Tyler Breckenkamp didn’t get into this game, but he did a great job before and hit a big three. He played very well in the previous games. That’s what we’re looking for.”
McCurdy led the Longhorns with 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He was 5-5 from the free-throw line.
Jake Socha added 15 points.
Michael Johnson scored four points and ran the offense before fouling out with 1:40 to play.
Barlett ended with three points while BJ Dean, Aaron Reale and Williams ended with two points apiece.
Sam Vickroy also played for Parkway West.