Baseball legend Satchel Paige once said, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”
That something is the Borgia basketball Knights.
After starting the season slower than its fans have been accustomed to, the Knights are quietly putting together their best play of the season.
Borgia (11-6) extended its season-best winning streak to five games with wins over visiting John F. Kennedy Friday, 59-48, and over Parkway Central in the opening round of the Ameritime Classic at Missouri Baptist University Monday night, 56-52.
“We just had a lot of contributions from a lot of different players,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “A lot of them don’t show up in the box score quite as much, like some big rebounds at times, some nice passes, some nice cuts to the basket and shots. If you look at the scoring column, we had a number of people who scored. That really helped us out.”
However, if the Knights are going to continue that winning streak, they’re going to have to find a way to beat top seed Hazelwood Central Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“That really should be some fun,” Neier said.
The tournament concludes Friday. The Knights will play at either 7 p.m. (third-place game) or 8:30 p.m. (championship) depending upon Wednesday’s result.
Signs that the Knights are putting together a run toward the end of the regular season showed Monday at the Ameritime Classic with a win over Parkway Central, a team which earlier this season beat Washington by 10 points.
The Knights grabbed the lead for good late in the first quarter on a basket by Adam Meyer and never looked back.
Borgia led 12-11 after one quarter. Tyler Breckenkamp hit a three and Jordan Miller added a bucket off a steal to extend the lead to six early in the second quarter. Borgia enjoyed a five-point edge at the half, 26-21.
In the third quarter, the Knights were able to meet every Parkway Central rally and carried a 39-32 advantage into the final quarter.
Borgia’s biggest advantage, 12 points, came during the third quarter. In the final eight minutes, the Knights needed every point of that lead.
Parkway Central worked to feed the ball inside to Nathan Biggs and the Knights could not stop him.
Biggs, however, stopped himself. With Borgia holding a slim 49-47 lead with 1:15 to play, Biggs fouled out after Jordan Miller secured the ball. He hit both free throws.
Even without Biggs, who led all scorers with 18 points, the Colts pulled to within a point again on a basket by Andrew Chekadonov.
“There were stretches where we didn’t do things well,” Neier said. “We didn’t hit free throws when we could have stretched the lead out a little bit or we didn’t play very good defense when they were scoring. It seemed that we always fought back and overcame those things. We got it going in the right direction again. In the fourth quarter, when they put on the pressure, we did a pretty good job of passing the ball, finding the open guy and putting it into the basket or getting fouled and making free throws.”
Borgia made it a three-point game on a free throw by Zach Schweissguth and sealed it at the line on two free throws by Miller with 26.5 seconds to play, making it 54-49.
Joe Helfrich added a final Borgia bucket while open under the basket as the Colts pressed everyone. Parkway Central got a three-point shot at the buzzer to make the final margin four points, 56-52.
“They had some talent on that team,” Neier said. “We knew they were going to come at us. I was proud of our kids. They kept fighting out there. They kept playing hard and did a pretty good job of fighting hard for the entire game.”
Eight different players scored for Borgia. Miller led the way with 16 points.
Schweissguth ended the game with nine points.
Casey Kuchem and Helfrich scored eight points apiece.
John Baumstark closed with six points.
Breckenkamp netted three points while Meyer and Kevin Birk scored two points apiece.
“The guys who rotated in did an outstanding job,” Neier said.
Also reaching double digits for Parkway Central were Jarrett Cox-Bradley with 15 points and Chekadonov with 11.
Connor Kraus added four points and Cameron Scales and Shacquille Holley scored two points apiece.
Borgia’s big second quarter gave the Knights the cushion they needed to beat Kenendy Friday at the Ray DeGreeff Memorial Gymnasium, 59-48.
Borgia’s 10th win of the season was pushed along by a 20-8 second quarter, which allowed the team to take a 32-20 lead to the intermission.
The Knights extended their lead to 49-31 after three quarters and held on during a Kennedy comeback in the final quarter.
For the game, Borgia was 19-23 from the free-throw line. Kennedy outrebounded the Knights, 25-22, but Borgia took advantage of 26 Kennedy turnovers. Borgia had 17 turnovers in the game.
Miller led Borgia in scoring with 19 points while hitting three of the team’s four three-point baskets. He was perfect from the free-throw line, hitting all four of his attempts. He added three assists, three steals and a rebound.
Baumstark reached double digits in scoring with 12 points. He scored half of those from the free-throw line, going 6-7 from the stripe. He added two rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Schweissguth netted 10 points. He recorded four steals, two assists and two rebounds while going 4-4 from the free-throw line.
Kuchem scored seven points with three rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal.
Birk picked up four points, six steals, three rebounds and an assist.
River Filla scored four points with four rebounds.
Parker DuMontier netted two points, both free throws.
Helfrich scored one point with four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Breckenkamp recorded one rebound. Collin Mantle had an assist. Meyer pulled down two rebounds with one blocked shot and one steal. Alex Moss also played.