For the first time since Dec. 8, the Borgia boys basketball Knights reached the .500 mark with a 71-56 win over Westminster Christian Academy Tuesday.
“It was another game where offensively we shot the ball very well,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “We got some inside play from both of our centers and they presented a problem for them, where they had to help and guys got open outside.”
Borgia improved to 10-10 on the season with the win after building up an early lead and holding off the Wildcats throughout the second half.
The Knights led 19-16 after one quarter, 34-24 at the half and 52-39 through three quarters.
“It always gives you confidence when you get out and hit some buckets and make some stops at the beginning,” Neier said. “It was a big win for us on our home court.”
The win also had significance to Neier as he tied Borgia legendary coach Ray DeGreeff with 703 career wins. DeGreeff won 545 of those games at Borgia and the rest came at other high schools and during a three-year stint as head coach at Quincy University.
“He was quite a gentleman,” Neier said about DeGreeff. “He was such an ambassador for our school. He did so many good things. If I’m half the person he was, I would be pretty happy. I had the opportunity to play for him and coach for him. I hope everybody always remembers him because he was such an important asset in our school in so many different ways. He was a total gentlemen and I’m glad I have been able to follow him and Steve Ruether to be a part of this.”
It also was Neier’s 899th game in charge of the Knights. His career record is 703-196.
Neier’s 900th game as Borgia’s head coach comes Friday when the Knights travel to St. Dominic looking for their first Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division win of the season. St. Dominic has won twice against Borgia so far this year.
“We’ve improved a lot since the Washington Tournament and we have to keep improving with the schedule we have to win some ballgames,” Neier said.
The Knights looked offensively to senior Hunter Mehler, who had his best-scoring game with 32 points. Mehler was able to score all over the floor, from beyond the three-point arc to dunking the ball. He also had six rebounds, four assists, four steals and a blocked shot.
“Hunter Mehler had a big game offensively,” Neier said. “They had trouble guarding him. Other guys put in big shots, too.”
Two other Knights also reached double digits in scoring.
Senior Eli Marquart knocked down three three-point baskets and dunked while scoring 13 points. He also had four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“Eli Marquart had a nice game,” Neier said. “He always gets some big deflections on defense. He makes the threes and also got a dunk on a breakaway.”
Junior forward Brendan Smith scored 10 points with eight rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and two steals.
“Brendan Smith had a nice game again and Will Elbert came in and did a job,” Neier said. “Both did a pretty good job on the boards.”
Senior Jacob Unnerstall added seven points with seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“Jacob is pretty steady every game,” Neier said. “He’s going to score some points, get a ton of rebounds and play tough defense.”
Senior Dalton Shust netted five points with three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
“Dalton Shust went in and had another big game off the bench for us,” Neier said. “He did a good job.”
Senior Michael Baylard scored four points with five assists, two rebounds and a steal.
“Michael Baylard came off the bench and ran our offense really well and got it going,” said Neier.
Elbert, a junior had two blocked shots and two rebounds. Freshman Max Meyers posted two assists with a steal.
“Max Meyers did a good job defensively,” Neier said. “He always plays hard.”
Also playing were senior Jason Peters and sophomore Cole Weber.
Borgia knocked down eight three-point baskets in the game and went 3-6 from the free-throw line.
“If you go to everybody who played in this game, they did their job and that’s a big part for us,” Neier said. “You don’t have to try to do anything extraordinary. We just have to play well as a team and play together.”
Dominic Cusumano and Luke Linam each scored 10 points to pace Westminster.
Cusumano also had three rebounds and an assist. Linam added two steals, an assist and a rebound.
Jerram Adams, Logan Montgomery and Brennan Orf each scored nine points. Adams also had three assists, three rebounds and two steals. Montgomery added one rebound and Orf had five assists, two rebounds and a blocked shot.
Levi Alldredge scored seven points with five rebounds, two assists and a steal. Alex Token added two points, one rebound and a steal.
Jeremiah Thompson had one assist.
Westminster knocked down 10 three-point baskets and went 6-10 from the free-throw line.
“They have so many good shooters that it’s really hard trying to cover them all,” Neier said. “They do a really good job of finding the open man and we did give up some three-pointers, but I thought our defense played hard the entire game and we tried to shut them out every possession. As long as we keep playing hard, it always gives you a chance.”