Win the district title.
Championship games at the Class 4 District 8 Basketball Tournaments in Hannibal take place Friday evening with St. Francis Borgia Regional facing Hannibal in both title games.
This isn’t the first time in recent history that Borgia and Hannibal have been in the same district. The schools were together as recently as 2005, when Borgia beat the Pirates in the boys championship.
This marks the first time the two schools will pair up in a doubleheader for the respective girls and boys titles.
The schools also played at both the St. Francis Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament (boys) and Troy Pepsi Tournament (girls) around the same years, sometimes meeting.
Borgia is the top seed on the girls side while Hannibal was ranked third. That game tips off at 6 p.m.
The top-seeded Hannibal boys then play the Knights in the second contest at 7:30 p.m.
Borgia boys Head Coach Dave Neier knows it’s going to be an electric atmosphere at Hannibal High School.
“It will be exciting with the boys and girls from the two schools playing for the titles,” Neier said. “I know they will have a good crowd and we travel well especially when we have both teams playing. It should be a great night.”
Indeed, Hannibal High School should be the most popular destination in town Friday night.
Even if Tom Sawyer came to life and started whitewashing the fence at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, the Korf Gymnasium still likely would have the biggest draw.
Friday’s winners advance to meet the winners of District 7 Tuesday at Troy High School.
Semifinals were scheduled for Thursday with the championship games for that district being played Saturday.
McCluer and Incarnate Word are the top seeds for the boys and girls, respectively.
St. Charles West will play either McCluer or St. Dominic for the boys title. Incarnate Word and St. Charles will play for the girls title.
The sectional boys game will be played at 6 p.m. with the girls following at 7:45 p.m.
The first game will be between the top-seeded Borgia Lady Knights and third-seeded Hannibal Lady Pirates (13-12) at 6 p.m.
Borgia (11-14) advanced with a 61-43 win over Mexico Tuesday, while Hannibal eliminated second-seeded Moberly, 52-43. The Lady Pirates opened play Monday afternoon with a 47-39 win over sixth-seeded Kirksville.
Borgia Head Coach Stacia Houlihan knows her team can’t concentrate on one player.
“Hannibal is a solid team that likes to get contributions from everyone,” Houlihan said. “We have to continue to rebound and play solid defense if we are going to take the championship.”
Bella Falconer led Hannibal with 15 points while Kaylee Falconer added 11. Hannibal has players who can score from outside the three-point arc as well.
Hannibal jumped on Moberly early Tuesday in the semifinals and built up a 17-9 lead and holding an edge for the rest of the game.
Borgia showed depth in its semifinal game with many younger players seeing time on the court. That’s something Houlihan hasn’t had in recent seasons.
Senior Grace Gettemeier is Borgia’s bellwether. If the 5-8 guard is having a good night, the team stands a much better chance for success. Gettemeier handles the ball and is a primary outside shooter.
Inside the paint, 6-1 sophomore forward Avery Lackey is a mismatch for many teams and is a primary defender near the basket. But she’s not the only player at the spot. Houlihan can rotate Lynnae Grus, Kaitlyn Patke and Josie Lindemann in there and also has Grace Rickman and Carley Beeson on the roster.
Senior Dani Kimminau plays the point of the Borgia defense and is a capable scorer as well.
Mya Hillermann, another sophomore, has jumped into the guard rotation with Julia Struckhoff and Gettemeier.
Can the Knights contain Dezi Jones?
That seems to be one of the biggest questions facing Borgia (15-11) headed into the championship contest.
Hannibal (18-4) got 33 points from the standout guard in a 61-47 win over Kirksville Tuesday.
“We’ve got to slow down Jones,” Neier said. “He is so quick and elusive. We have to defend him without fouling him. He’s an excellent free-throw shooter and tremendous passer. He’s one of the best players we’ve seen this year.”
Jones surpassed the 2,000-point scoring mark earlier this season and is capable of carrying the offense by himself. He had 10 points in the first half Tuesday and helped Hannibal turn a 22-21 halftime deficit into a lead with 15 points in the third quarter alone.
But Borgia can’t just concentrate on Jones.
“They’ve got some pretty good talent besides him,” Neier said. “They’ve got to be in the right spots to catch the passes. Jones helps makes everyone else better.”
Adreke Brumbaugh and Will Whitaker scored 10 points apiece in the win over Kirksville.
Neier said Borgia has a size advantage with 6-8 senior forwards Will Elbert and Brendan Smith, but Hannibal has some energetic forwards who are aggressive in going to the boards.
Another key will be ball control. Neier said the Pirates are quick to get into transition after plundering steals and that leads to easy points.
Borgia defeated third-seeded Moberly in the late game Tuesday, 64-55, and it was a balanced attack which sealed the win. Neier knows Borgia will need another full team effort to beat the Pirates.