Initiating a new school into a tradition, the Borgia boys basketball Knights knocked off St. Mary’s Friday in Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division action, 48-35.
The Knights (13-8, 4-2) welcomed the Dragons (10-9, 1-5) to their annual Tractor Night promotion, the first time it’s been used in either an AAA game or in a contest against St. Mary’s.
“Tractor Night always is a fun event,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “We had a great crowd with a lot of enthusiasm. It makes it exciting, for sure.”
Tractor Night is a tradition which goes back several years and has taken place when the Knights have hosted either Vianney or DeSmet, both large all-boys schools.
However, this year, the Knights played at Vianney and DeSmet no longer is on the schedule, so St. Mary’s was drafted as the Tractor Night opponent.
The event featured all of the usual Tractor Night activities. There was a pedal tractor race at halftime of the varsity game and the Borgia student fans came wearing their country finest.
On the court, the Knights were able to pull out the victory, but had to overcome a sluggish start.
“They were hot from the beginning while we were cold,” Neier said. “They built up a pretty good lead, but defense helped us get into the game. We were able to get turnovers and score easy baskets.”
St. Mary’s jumped out to an 8-0 advantage (with two three-point baskets from junior standout Josh Robinson) before Borgia scored its first basket, a three-point shot by senior Casey Kuchem with 3:22 to play in the first quarter.
Kuchem hit a pair of three-point baskets in the first quarter.
“It was hard to figure out with Casey,” Neier said. “He really did play well. Against Duchesne, he couldn’t put a shot in, but on Friday he played very well. He hit a couple of threes. Overall, we were not particularly hot shooting the ball, but we were very aggressive in getting easy shots.”
The Knights rallied to take the lead, 11-10, on a three-point play by junior Joe Helfrich with 1:15 left in the quarter.
St. Mary’s took the lead on a Jake DeWeese basket near the end of the quarter.
The second quarter belonged to the Knights. Borgia outscored the Dragons, 12-3, to take a 23-15 advantage to the intermission.
The Knights picked up scoring from four different players (Kuchem, senior Jordan Miller, junior Adam Meyer and senior River Filla) to surge out to the advantage.
St. Mary’s got three points from Robinson during that span.
At the break, John Deere green replaced St. Mary’s green on the floor for the halftime festivities.
Once play resumed, Borgia added to its lead through the third quarter and held a 38-23 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Kuchem led the Knights in scoring with 19 points while adding eight rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal.
Helfrich scored nine points with six rebounds.
Miller ended the game with eight points, five assists, three rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Six other players scored two points apiece. They were senior John Baumstark (three rebounds, two assists and two steals), junior Tyler Breckenkamp, Filla (three rebounds and one steal), Meyer (one rebound) and junior Zac Schweissguth (four assists, two rebounds and two steals).
“Everyone who rotated into the game did something positive for the team,” Neier said.
Robinson led the Dragons with 20 points. After hitting the first two three-point baskets of the game, he didn’t connect from beyond the arc again.
“After the start, we did a better job keeping track of where he was,” said Neier. “We had to know that with the ball in his hands, he could shoot from anywhere. He’s an exceptional shooter, for sure. We had to do a better job guarding him.”
Robinson also went 4-6 from the free-throw line and added seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one blocked shot.
DeWeese, James Wiggins and DeShawn Wilson scored four points apiece. Matt Causino closed with three points.
The Knights played Monday at Trinity in a game against an AAA Small Division foe.
Borgia hits the road Tuesday to take on St. Dominic in AAA Large Division action.
Borgia concludes AAA Large Division play with a home game against DuBourg Thursday. That’s a tripleheader with the varsity game expected to start around 6:45 p.m.