No overtime needed.
Both St. Francis Borgia Regional and Pacific went through overtime periods during the semifinal round in order to reach the championship game of the 66th Annual Turkey Tournament. However, Borgia (3-0) secured the championship in regulation Saturday, defeating the Indians (2-1), 49-37.
After word spread of two overtime games in the semifinals setting the stage for another Borgia showdown against Pacific, a rematch of last season’s district championship game, fans showed up in force to witness Saturday’s title contest.
“This is what every high school basketball game could be like with so much enthusiasm on both sides,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “There was a huge crowd and so much noise that the players had a hard time hearing us yelling from the bench. But it makes it exciting. It makes it memorable for the kids and that’s what you want for the kids to get the most out of this experience.”
While the Knights maintained a lead in the contest, the game went back and forth with the two teams separated by two possessions or less most of the way until Borgia pulled away from the free-throw line in the closing minutes.
Borgia led 10-8 after one quarter and 21-18 at the half. The Knights maintained a 32-28 advantage after three periods.
“It was a battle,” Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer said. “It was close with four minutes to go, it was probably a four-point game and we just couldn’t get a shot to go. Defensively, I thought we were really solid. Borgia has scored (heavily) in their first two games. We had them in the lower 40s until we started fouling. Really proud of the kids’ effort.”
Between Cole Weber, Alex Brinkmann and tournament MVP Trent Strubberg, the Knights had a rotation of players to deliver the big shots when they were needed most.
“Our shooting kept us in the game and I think it’s going to keep us in the rest of the season too,” Strubberg said. “We’ve been getting third the last few years. It means a lot to come back and win it in front of our home fans.”
The win gave Borgia its first championship in its own season-opening tournament since 2015, having twice finished third in back-to-back appearances in 2016 and 2017.
“It feels amazing,” Borgia senior forward Brendan Smith said. “You can see that the support here has been unreal. We really wanted to show out for the fans.”
Weber led the team with 18 points in the championship game.
Brinkmann knocked through 15 points.
“They came up with some big shots and I know at a crucial time, Alex Brinkmann took the ball to the basket two or three times in a row and was able to score a layup or get fouled,” Neier said. “That was really huge for us.”
Strubberg added nine, followed by Smith with four, Ryan Kell with two and Max Meyers with one.
Smith grabbed a team high of six rebounds.
Brinkmann and Weber pulled down five rebounds each. Strubberg rebounded three and Kell and Meyers one apiece.
Brinkmann dealt out three assists. Kell and Meyers made two assists each and Smith and Strubberg one each.
Smith and Brinkmann each made three steals. Strubberg stole two and Kell, Meyers and Weber all stole one.
Smith blocked three shots.
“We wanted to come out firing and keep up and just play calm and under control,” Smith said. “It’s nice that we’ve also got another 6-8 guy (senior Will Elbert) that’s coming back off an injury. We’re going to be pretty hard to stop once he’s back.”
Don’TA Harris led Pacific in scoring with 10 points and rebounds with nine.
Next for the Indians was Dylan Myers with eight points. Jacob Sauvage chipped in seven points, James Iliff six, Jordan Cowsert four and Mason Fleming two.
Cowsert and Fleming each pulled down six rebounds. Jeremiah Murray grabbed three rebounds, Myers two and Sauvage one.
Sauvage dished out four assists, Myers three and Harris, Cowsert and Fleming one apiece.
Sauvage picked up a pair of steals.
Murray and Harris each blocked a shot.
Neier credited Pacific with tough defense to keep the game competitive.
“Pacific really does have a nice ballclub,” Neier said. “Defensively, they’re always in the right position. Fortunately, I think we had a pretty good defensive plan and didn’t give them too many easy shots. If you gave them an open shot, they were putting it in. We were lucky to have Brendan Smith in there, especially as far as rebounding and as an anchor in there on defensive if they were taking it to the basket. That helped us out a lot.”
VanLeer said the Borgia-Pacific rivalry has grown in the past 10 years with the teams often sharing a district. That will not be the case this season with Pacific assigned to Class 4 District 3 and Borgia in Class 4 District 8. However, the two teams will play again during the regular season on Jan. 29 at Borgia.
The Knights next play Wednesday on the road at Lutheran South at 7 p.m.
Pacific will host Festus Tuesday in the Indians’ home opener, also at 7 p.m.