Outscoring Sullivan by a 31-18 margin over the middle two quarters, the Borgia basketball Knights claimed another district title Saturday.
The Knights (19-8) triumphed over the third-seeded Eagles (19-9) by a 50-38 score.
“It was hard fought,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “Sullivan played a heck of a game. We were lucky that we came out and played some pretty good defense. I think we were cold offensively at the beginning.”
As the Class 4 District 9 champion, the Knights now play in a MSHSAA sectional game Wednesday in Rolla. The Knights will take on Springfield Hillcrest Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Missouri S&T in Rolla.
In Saturday’s district championship game, a rematch of last year’s district title contest in Union, the teams came out with a focus on defense. The game was 5-5 after one quarter, a pace both teams felt comfortable with as they have played some low scoring games this season. Borgia tied the score on a three-point shot from reserve sophomore Alex Moss.
However, things picked up in the second quarter. Junior Zac Schweissguth hit the first two baskets for the Knights.
“We had some shots, but couldn’t knock them down,” Neier said. “We were able to hang in there with some good defense until we were able to put some shots in. It was a great team effort. A lot of different guys scored. A lot of guys came off the bench and gave us some great minutes besides what the starters did.”
Leading 9-7, Borgia got another of those contributions off the bench. Junior Tyler Breckenkamp came into the game and got a quick chance to see what he could do. His three-point basket started an 8-2 Borgia run through much of the second quarter.
“A lot of years, we looked to get depth on the bench,” Neier said. “This was pretty intense. Guys wear down a little bit. Sometimes you have to find a guy to go in there and help out. Tyler Breckenkamp went in and hit a big three. Alex Moss went in and hit a big three. There were some big moments in there for those kids. Hopefully that’s something they can build on.”
Also hitting threes in the quarter were senior Jordan Miller and Schweissguth and the Knights took a 20-11 lead to the intermission.
“Zac Schweissguth got hot from the three-point line as he got some open shots,” Neier said. “He also put some big free throws in.”
In the third quarter, Borgia displayed another of its offensive weapons. Senior John Baumstark scored all five of his points to open the third quarter. Baumstark converted on a conventional three-point play and then added another basket.
Borgia went flat offensively as Sullivan found its junior standout, Justin Biermann, to lead Sullivan’s comeback attempt. After sophomore Michael McDermott hit a three for the Eagles, the lead was cut down to four points, 25-21.
That’s where Schweissguth picked up things again. He hit a three and senior Casey Kuchem followed up with another three-point basket as the Knights extended the lead to double digits.
Miller scored off a rebound and Kuchem hit another three-point basket to give Borgia a 36-21 advantage.
“Casey Kuchem hit a couple of big threes and helped us extend the lead,” Neier said. “It seems that every time they got a run that they got close, we were able to answer. They battled the whole game. They have a very good team with a lot of weapons. That makes it scary. Defensively, we moved around pretty well and kept them in check for the most part.”
Biermann hit a pair of free throws for Sullivan to cut it to 36-23 after three quarters.
Kuchem came up with another three-point shot to start the fourth quarter. Borgia led by as much as 41-25 before the Eagles were able to rally late in the game.
But in the end, Borgia’s advantage proved to be too great for Sullivan to overcome.
Borgia hit eight three-point baskets in the game with five different players scoring. That helped the Knights remain a couple of steps ahead of Sullivan through much of the contest.
Schweissguth led the Knights in scoring with 17 points while adding six assists and three rebounds. He hit both of the three-point baskets he attempted and was 5-6 from the free-throw line.
“I guess they scouted me as a driver,” Schweissguth said. “Sullivan was leaving me open, so I just shot it and they went in.”
Kuchem was next with 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
“When we came out, they guarded me so tight that I thought it was going to be a long game,” Kuchem said. “They started to let up a little bit because we were getting other people to score. That’s when I took advantage of it.”
Miller netted seven points with five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Baumstark scored five points with four rebounds.
Breckenkamp and Moss scored three points apiece.
A number of others didn’t score, but made key contributions.
Senior River Filla earned a starting spot and contributed two rebounds and an assist while playing strong defense.
Junior Kevin Birk saw significant playing time with four rebounds and an assist.
Junior Adam Meyer also played.
“Those guys play tenacious defense,” Neier said. “That’s what we look for to play hard and to go out and give us a chance.”
Biermann led the Eagles with 18 points, including 16 in the second half.
Senior Adam Weiland scored seven points.
Senior JC Beckett ended with five points.
McDermott and senior Joey Lochner scored three points apiece.
Junior Chris Erxleben scored two points.