In a showdown of two of the area’s top Class 4 basketball teams, host Borgia held off Pacific Tuesday, 60-45.
The atmosphere at the Ray DeGreeff Memorial Gymnasium had all of the energy of a playoff contest with both schools bringing large student cheering sections, which kept the gym loud all night long.
“What an atmosphere!” exclaimed Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier. “Pacific brought a huge crowd. That makes it just a lot of fun. One of the referees commented that this was like the old days when the gyms were packed every game and kids really supported their schools. We’ve always had great support. Tonight was a great atmosphere for high school basketball.”
Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer lauded the crowd.
“Our student section (the 6th Man) was great,” VanLeer said. “It was a great atmosphere to play in.”
Neier said Borgia always has strong support.
“Our kids do a great job following us and it makes it more fun for everybody, especially our players,” Neier said. “They were excited going into the game. Having a good performance made it special for them.”
With such a charged atmosphere, both teams stepped up, but in the end, the Knights (9-6) were able to hold off Pacific (9-6).
“Obviously they are a very talented team,” Neier said about the Indians.
It’s possible that the teams could meet again in the Class 4 District 9 Tournament in Pacific. Those teams will be there along with Owensville, St. Clair, Sullivan and Union.
“We made way too many turnovers to have a chance in a game against a quality opponent like Borgia,” VanLeer said. “Our defensive intensity, positioning and communication were awful! We played unconfident on the offensive end of the floor.”
Borgia received key defensive plays and clutch shooting which helped the Knights build up an advantage and hold on when Pacific surged back late in the game.
Borgia blocked nine shots and added 12 steals. The Knights hit seven three-point baskets.
“I think we hustled tonight and played hard,” Neier said. “Even when we made some mistakes defensively, we were able to make up for it with deflections, get back into play or get a big rebound. Offensively, I thought we did a good job pushing the ball up the court and getting open shots. When you have a couple of guys shooting the ball good, that makes a difference, too.”
Pacific took advantage of 13 Borgia turnovers and hit four three-point baskets of its own.
Borgia led 14-11 after one quarter and 26-18 at the intermission. The Knights got a pair of three-point baskets near the end of the third quarter to take a 42-29 advantage heading into the final quarter. Pacific made a run, but couldn’t get close enough to mount a serious threat.
The Knights had three players reach double digits in scoring.
Senior Jordan Miller led the way with 20 points. He hit four three-point baskets and added five assists, four blocked shots, four rebounds and three steals.
“Jordan had quite a game,” Neier said.
Junior Zach Schweissguth had a huge game with 19 points. He was able to hit outside shots with one three-point basket, drive to the basket (6-8 from the field) and convert free throws when fouled (6-8 from the free-throw line). He added three assists, three steals and a rebound.
“Look at what Zach Schweissguth did,” Neier said. “He was going to the basket and putting free throws in late to help us keep the lead. It didn’t let them get back into the game at the end.”
Senior Casey Kuchem netted 12 points while adding four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Senior John Baumstark scored seven points with four rebounds and four steals before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Junior Joe Helfrich scored two points with six rebounds, three blocked shots, an assist and a rebound.
Junior Kevin Birk pulled own three rebounds and added an assist.
Senior River Filla had one rebound.
Junior Adam Meyer contributed two rebounds.
Borgia struggled at the free-throw line, hitting just seven of 16 attempts from the stripe. That helped Pacific rally late in the game.
The Indians were led by sophomore Cullen VanLeer, who scored 13 points in the game. He netted 11 of those points in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter.
“You start with Cullen VanLeer, that’s where the biggest part of your defensive attention is,” Neier said. “Tonight, they proved they have other kids who can score. They’ve got some shooters on their team who can present a lot of problems.”
Senior Zeth Boyer scored 10 points and received praise for his work around the glass and at the free-throw line.
“Zeth Boyer had a good night from the free-throw line and rebounding,” VanLeer said.
Sophomore Noah Boyer scored seven points in the game with five coming in the first quarter.
Junior Jeff Hinkle scored four of his five points in the third quarter.
Junior Logan Armstrong netted four points.
Junior Tanner Brown and senior Brendan Jett-Kell scored three points apiece.
“We got a lot of things to fix and we will get them fixed,” VanLeer said.