For the Borgia Knights, it was worth the wait.
Borgia achieved two milestones Friday night in a 46-37 win over St. Dominic Friday in the Ray DeGreeff Memorial Gymnasium.
The Knights (2-2, 1-0) won their first-ever Archdiocesan Athletic Association contest and gave Head Coach Dave Neier his 600th career victory.
While Neier likes to emphasize team achievement and the contributions of all, the massive student fan section honored Neier with 600-win signs.
“It’s not 600 wins, it’s all the people dedicated to this program throughout the years all the way up to tonight probably starting with Coach (Ray) DeGreeff and before him Coach (Seb) Nowicki,” Neier said.
“Coach DeGreeff and Coach Nowicki did such a wonderful job getting this program built and Steve Ruether after him,” Neier continued. “There are so many people who should be pointed out. Obviously there are so many people who should be pointed out. My dad (Hans Neier) was a huge influence on me and probably the first one I thought of afterward. My uncle, Jim Voss, coached grade school also. A lot of people influenced me.”
Neier said a lot of the credit has to go to the assistant coaches.
“I have to thank all of the assistant coaches I’ve had through the years,” Neier said. “We’ve had some unbelievable ones. You go all the way to the current staff. Stan Westhoff does a great job with the freshmen. We’ve got two young guys, Luke Meyer and Eric Kimminau, who are starting out this year. You can never leave out Bill Kimminau. Most of these victories probably belong to him as he does such a great job with this program. He’s been with me all but one year. He gets things going in the right way for us and does so many good things for our program.”
Neier said it’s a community effort as well.
“If you look at all of the support we’ve had throughout the years with the fans, our administration and our student body,” Neier said. “If anybody saw the game tonight, they would see how important it is to have that backing. Our kids played with a lot of emotion tonight and a lot of that had to come from the student body. They were loud and they were into the game the whole time. They made it a lot of fun. It was a great high school atmosphere as we played a tremendous team.
The game had the electricity of a playoff contest. It seemed that at least half of Borgia’s students showed up at the game while St. Dominic brought a much smaller, but very vocal, student section as well.
The two sections kept the energy level high during the entire contest.
“It really does mean something when it comes from the students,” Neier said. “It was pretty nice getting that ovation.”
And it marked Borgia’s first-ever AAA contest.
“This is just the first game in the conference,” Neier said. “We’ve got a lot more to go before we can claim anything in the conference. We’ve got to go through them again and we’ve got to play Duchesne. Every team in our conference will go out and play us a tough game. We’ve got to be prepared every time we step onto the court.”
The game got a late start due to St. Dominic’s bus breaking down. The Crusaders were about an hour late arriving at Borgia. Borgia led 12-9 after one quarter.
“St. Dominic had great size and they could shoot the ball outside,” Neier said. “They could play defense. It really was a good win.”
The Knights were able to pull away in the second quarter to go ahead 22-14 at the half.
“We rotated a lot of kids and tried to keep our kids fresh,” Neier said. “When you play that hard, you need a break. The starters did a great job. When kids came off the bench, they contributed. It takes everybody on our team to be a good team. Tonight was a good example that it takes everybody.”
After three quarters, the Knights were up, 28-17. The final score was recorded at 46-37 in the scorebook even though it was shown at 46-38 on the scoreboard.
“We really tried to take away their inside game,” Neier said. “That is a big strength they have. They do have kids who can shoot outside. I was so happy to see our kids go out with emotion and play so hard.”
Borgia outrebounded the Crusaders by a 24-13 margin.
The Knights had two players close out with 12 points apiece.
Senior Casey Kuchem scored 12 points with eight rebounds, four blocked shots, three steals and one assist.
Junior Joe Helfrich scored 12 points while going 4-4 from the free-throw line. For the game, the Knights only attempted five free throws and Helfrich was the only one to convert. He also had four rebounds and two assists.
Seniors John Baumstark and Jordan Miller scored six points apiece.
Baumstark also had four rebounds, all on the offensive end, and two assists. Miller led the team with four assists and tied for the lead with three steals. He also had two rebounds.
Sophomore Alex Moss chipped in with five points and one assist. Junior Tyler Breckenkamp had three points and one rebound.
Junior Adam Meyer closed with two points, four rebounds, two blocked shots, an assist and a steal.
Senior River Filla posted one rebound. Junior Zach Schweissguth added three assists.
Alex Hagen led St. Dominic with 20 points while hitting four three-point baskets.
St. Dominic won the junior varsity contest.
The Knights return to action Friday, hosting Lutheran St. Charles. The tripleheader starts with freshman action at 4 p.m. The varsity game is expected to begin around 6:45 p.m., barring any delays.