Borgia’s quest to win its 31st Turkey Tournament title came to a halt Friday in the semifinals with a 63-51 loss to Cardinal Ritter.
The third-seeded Lions (2-0) advanced to the Saturday title game against No. 5 McCluer North while Borgia (1-1) moved into the third-place game against St. Louis Christian.
Borgia was seeded second in the 64th Annual St. Francis Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament while St. Louis Christian was the top seed.
“They’re a very good team,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “Whenever we made mistakes, they took advantage of the opportunities and got some easy buckets.”
The Lions exploded out of the gate in Friday’s semifinal game, scoring the first 13 points.
“We dug ourselves into a big hole in the beginning,” Neier said. “We weren’t quite ready for their aggressiveness. They really got after us. After we calmed down and got aggressive ourselves on the offensive end and took the ball to the basket ourselves, we were able to get back into the ballgame.”
Cardinal Ritter did a little bit of everything during that run, starting with an alley-oop slam dunk by Xavier Womack and also getting a three-point shot by Ryan Trice.
Borgia broke the run with 3:02 left in the quarter as senior Gus Kleekamp found the range.
Kleekamp was Borgia’s main offensive threat early in the game, scoring three of Borgia’s seven points in the opening quarter. It was 15-7 after eight minutes with the Lions leading.
Borgia continued to chip into the Cardinal Ritter lead in the second quarter and took the lead on a three-point basket by Sam Piontek with 3:30 remaining in the half. After Cardinal Ritter’s Rasean Pate scored twice, Piontek scored again to make it 24-24 at the intermission.
“We changed our defense up and that caused them some problems,” Neier said. “That helped us out some.”
The Lions charged out again in the third quarter, netting the first seven points to go up by seven.
“We had little things, like throwing the ball into bounds in the second half where we could have gotten back into the game, we threw it away two or three times in a row and gave them easy baskets,” Neier said. “They were able to expand the lead.”
The Knights again worked back, but this time couldn’t catch the Lions.
Cardinal Ritter led 42-37 at the close of three quarters and sealed the 63-51 victory.
“They’re a very good team,” Neier said. “We’re lucky to have the opportunity to play them early in the season. It points out what we need to get better at. Just playing that competition will help us get better. Hopefully, our kids will learn from it.”
Jared Phillips and Womack tied for the team lead for Cardinal Ritter with 17 points apiece.
Malek Davis scored 12 points. Trice closed with nine on three three-point baskets.
Ronald Welch was next with six points and Pate had two.
The Lions knocked down 23 two-point shots, three three-point baskets and went 10-13 from the free-throw line.
Borgia was led by Kleekamp, who scored 19 points for the game.
“He’s such an aggressive player, especially taking the ball to the basket,” said Neier. “He got us going early and gave us a spark. He really helped us on defense as well. He definitely had a good game.”
Borgia had 16 two-point baskets, three three-point shots and went 10-15 from the free-throw line.
Kleekamp scored 19 points for the game, including 10 in the second quarter, to lead the Knights.
Senior Alex Movila scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.
“I think he was trying too hard to score like he did the other night,” Neier said. “You’ve got to just take it one shot at a time and play basketball.”
Piontek was next with seven points.
Senior Michael Smith and junior Eli Marquart scored six points apiece. Marquart’s points came on a pair of three-point baskets.
Junior Dalton Shust rounded out Borgia’s scoring with two points.
“Some other guys came through and showed us what they could do in helping to carry the load,” Neier said.
Borgia moved into the third-place game against St. Louis Christian with the loss. Christian was the top seed.