It’s still much too early to declare a winner in the Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division girls basketball race.
But the Borgia Lady Knights took an important step toward the title Wednesday night, defeating Duchesne, 45-34.
“It was a big conference win,” Borgia Head Coach Stacia Parsell said. “We’re in a heck of a stretch where we’re having several tough games and we’ve got to be mentally tough to get through this.”
Parsell indicated the victory was not about aesthetics.
“It was not a pretty win,” Parsell said. “When you play against Duchesne, one of the top teams in the area, it’s going to be a tough game.”
Borgia (17-2, 5-0) still has road games against St. Dominic and Bishop DuBourg left as well as a home contest against Rosati-Kain.
Duchesne (15-5, 3-2) still needs to play a road game at St. Dominic and home games against Bishop DuBourg and Rosati-Kain.
The Lady Knights actually face foes from the AAA Small Division first. Borgia will play Cardinal Ritter in the AAA Showcase at Cardinal Ritter Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Borgia then goes to Lutheran St. Charles Monday.
The Lady Knights will play the remaining three AAA Large Division games starting Tuesday at DuBourg. Borgia plays Wednesday at St. Dominic and Friday (Feb. 21) at home against Rosati-Kain.
The visiting Lady Pioneers had a chance to climb into a tie on top of the AAA Large Division with a win and played with purpose throughout the game.
Duchesne was very aggressive on both ends of the court and worked hard to grab offensive rebounds.
Duchesne led after one quarter, 8-6, after Courtney Reimer hit a pair of free throws with 30.7 seconds to play in the quarter.
The Lady Pioneers got a three-point shot from Morgan Plackemeier to tie the game at the half, 17-17.
Duchesne again tied the game, 27-27, after three quarters with Janelle Eisenbath hitting one of two free throws with 0.1 of a second left.
Borgia broke away midway through the fourth quarter, going on a 14-3 run during the final five minutes of the game to claim the win.
“We’re used to having our defense create offense,” Parsell said. “It was a struggle in the first part of the game, but fortunately our players understand that the type of press we run is more in tune with getting steals late in the game. We hung with it and came out with a big win.”
Tied 31-31, Arand scored to give Borgia the lead for the final time. Senior Emily Grahl then hit a free throw.
The two seniors paced Borgia in the game.
Grahl was the team’s leading scorer with 19 points. She also had five steals, most during Borgia’s fourth quarter run. Grahl also had four rebounds and one assist. She was 8-10 from the field and 3-4 from the free-throw line.
“Defensively, they did a good job early isolating Janie Arand and Megan Jensen, so we had to find some other scoring,” Parsell said. “Fortunately, we had Emily Grahl around. She got some layups and led us in scoring tonight.”
Grahl’s ability to knock the ball away from Duchesne guards played a huge role in Borgia’s run to seal the game.
Arand scored 16 points for Borgia and was the most consistent scorer at times during the game. She also had four rebounds and three steals.
Junior Molly Arand scored five points, including Borgia’s lone three-point basket. She also had four steals and two assists.
Sophomore Kaylee Heggemann came off the bench to score four points with three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Junior Megan Jensen had one of her toughest games near the basket, scoring one point. However, she was able to play the physical style of ball and pulled down nine rebounds as well as adding one assist and one steal.
Junior Cassandra Halsted did not score, but had two rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Reimer led Duchesne in scoring with 12 points.
Plackemeier was next with six points. Jordan Reimer and Savannah Pieper netted five points apiece while Eisenbath added four and Holly Mills ended with two points.