Celebrations had to be cut short for the St. Francis Borgia Regional Knights and Lady Knights following their Class 4 District 8 titles Friday in Hannibal.
That’s because the next round of the playoffs was just four days away.
Borgia’s teams hit the road again Tuesday to play in the sectional round in Troy.
Borgia’s boys (16-11) take on St. Charles West (19-8) at 6 p.m. in the first game.
The second contest is between the Lady Knights (12-14) and two-time defending state champion Incarnate Word Academy (26-2). That’s scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
Winners advance to the quarterfinal round at Francis Howell Central Saturday. The boys game starts at 1 p.m. with the girls following at 2:45 p.m.
Playing in the other sectional are Ladue (18-8) and Jennings (19-8) on the boys side and Parkway North (21-6) against Clayton (16-10) in the girls game.
It won’t be the first playoff meeting between the Knights and Warriors as they once were in the same district and played in the sectional round historically as well.
For years, the two schools played each year until the series was discontinued. In those days, it was Dave Neier against Terry Hollander in a matchup of hall of fame coaches.
Hollander since retired from St. Charles West and moved to Lindenwood University before ending up at O’Fallon Christian.
Neier is still going at Borgia. In his 32nd season, Neier has won 24 district titles. Overall, the program has 34 district crowns.
“It should be a good game,” Neier said. “They’re not far and they’ll have a huge crowd. Hopefully, we’ll match that.”
Both teams were seeded second in their respective districts. Borgia won at Hannibal while St. Charles West stopped top-seeded McCluer at home Saturday, 48-46.
The teams have common opponents with St. Dominic, Sullivan and St. Charles.
Borgia went 2-1 against St. Dominic this year while St. Charles West was 1-2 against the Crusaders. St. Charles West beat St. Charles twice in three games. Borgia won the only meeting with St. Charles.
Borgia defeated Lutheran North while St. Charles West lost. Both teams lost to Sullivan and beat Pacific. Borgia won twice against the Indians.
Both teams beat Duchesne. Borgia beat Vianney while the Golden Griffins beat St. Charles West.
Neier said St. Charles West kept improving throughout the season to reach this level.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication in practice and we’ll get it done,” Borgia senior forward Will Elbert said.
Trent Champagne is the top scorer for the Warriors, averaging 19.3 points per game. He is one of three outside shooting threats along with Josh Anderson (11.5 points per game) and Clark Henderson (8.9 points per game). The three have combined for 137 three-point baskets this season.
“Champagne is an exceptional shooter who can drive, shoot the three and pull up to make jumpers,” said Neier. “Anderson has a lot of energy and plays extremely hard all of the time. Henderson is a really good three-point shooter.”
Henderson is the team’s rebounding leader with 5.0 boards per game. John Wilson is next at 4.8 while Anderson averages 4.1 per game. Champagne pulls down 3.4 rebounds per contest.
“Wilson is a sophomore who plays extremely well and is just a good team player,” Neier said.
Champagne is a distributor as well, averaging 5.4 assists per game. Anderson is next at 3.1 and Henderson has 2.1 per game.
Anderson is the team’s leader in steals at just over two per game. Henderson is next at 1.9 and Champagne averages 1.8. Brendan Sprotsman averages 1.3 steals per game.
Henderson blocks 1.4 shots per game while Wilson is next at 1.1.
Borgia has an overall size advantage with 6-8 players Brendan Smith and Will Elbert, but Champagne, at 6-3, creates some mismatches on the perimeter.
Just as was the case against Hannibal, the Knights have to come up with a defense to make sure Champagne doesn’t take over.
David versus Goliath.
Rebels versus the Death Star.
Borgia versus Incarnate Word Academy.
The Red Knights are the closest thing to a dynasty in Missouri girls basketball. Incarnate Word is the two-time defending Class 4 state champion and last lost a playoff game March 19, 2016, to the Owensville Dutchgirls in the Class 4 third-place game.
Dan Rolfes and his program were inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame last November in St. Louis. Times have been good for the Red Knights.
Additionally, Incarnate Word Academy has dominated Borgia in meetings over the last 25 years going to back to state games in the early 1990s.
Borgia Head Coach Stacia Houlihan knows it’s a very difficult matchup for her team.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’ve played such a tough schedule that the matchup isn’t going to scare us,” Houlihan said. “We’ve played Jefferson City. It’s going to be a matter of trying to contain our turnovers to give ourselves a shot.”
Every single factor favors the Red Knights heading into the game. Incarnate Word has beaten every common opponent, Kirkwood, Cardinal Ritter, Cor Jesu, Jefferson City and St. Charles.
The Red Knights beat St. Charles, 71-25, Saturday. That was just over a week after St. Charles beat Borgia, 57-44.
The Incarnate Word starting lineup reads like Murderer’s Row of the 1927 New York Yankees.
Marisa Warren is the top scorer at 14.3 points per game, but she’s only one of four in double figures for the season. There’s Kiki Britzmann (13.3), Rickie Woltman (11.8) and Kate Rolfes (10.2) following. Ellie Vazzana is next at 8.7 points per game.
Britzmann, Warren and Drew Kell are the top three-point shooting threats and the team is solid at the free-throw line with most shooting at better than 70 percent.
Woltman, 6-4, is the top rebounder at eight per game with Britzmann next at 5.3.
Warren averages 5.4 assists per game, one of five to average over one per contest.
Warren averages three steals per game and four others are over one per contest.
Woltman is the top shot blocker at 1.4 per game.
Borgia has depth, but it’s young depth. Many of the players now making an impact started with the JV team this season before moving up.
Senior guard Grace Gettemeier is the pulse of the team, averaging 12.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. She’s the top outside scoring threat with 66 three-point shots this season.
“It’s going to take a lot of heart and effort,” Gettemeier said. “We’ve got to pick it up on defense more. Once we pick it up on defense, it will show for us on the offensive side.”
Sophomore Avery Lackey, a 6-2 forward, will have one of her toughest matchups of the year in the paint against the Incarnate Word players.
Lackey leads Borgia in scoring this year with 13.2 points per game. She also is the team’s top rebounder at 7.5 per contest. She averages 3.1 blocked shots per game to go with 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals.
“It will take teamwork, a lot of effort and hopefully we’ll be able to come together and win,” Lackey said.
It’s not the first time the teams have met in the postseason this school year. Borgia defeated Incarnate Word in a Class 3 volleyball quarterfinal match in three games last fall.