It wasn’t a high-percentage shot.
But it’s all Jacob Unnerstall could get as time ran out Thursday night at the Ray DeGreeff Memorial Gymnasium.
Unnerstall’s basket from near halfcourt went through the hoop to give the Borgia Knights an 82-79 home win over Lutheran North.
“Jacob Unnerstall putting a shot in at the buzzer was really exciting for our kids,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “We were very fortunate to come out with a win. They were very aggressive and forced us into some mistakes. That shows us we have a lot to work on.”
It’s a game that almost got away. And, earlier in the season, it very well could have ended with the Knights (9-10) watching victory slip away.
“You never felt comfortable with the lead and we were winning most of the game,” Neier said. “We even built up the lead to 13 points right before the end of the third quarter. The last 30 seconds of the third quarter, they scored six points and got it down to seven. It was a knockdown dragout in the fourth quarter as both teams battled. They were tough to stop. They did a great job and got hot from the three-point line. They took the ball to the basket. It was hard to get out on them because they were so good going to the basket. Even with two guys on them, they were really hard to stay in front of and stop.”
Borgia led for most of the game. It was 17-15 after one quarter, 36-32 at the half, and 57-50 through three quarters.
Borgia led by double digits for part of the second half. The biggest lead was 13 points late in the third quarter, 57-44. The Knights had a seven-point lead with 2:37 to play.
Lutheran North, which hit six three-point baskets in the game, tied it on a Tahj Patterson three in the final 20 seconds. The Crusaders got the ball back on the defensive end and called multiple timeouts with 5.5 seconds to play while trying to set up the final shot.
“For them to tie it up at the end and have the ball with 5.5 seconds left, it was a big play,” Neier said. “They called a timeout and we changed our defense. They called another timeout and we changed our defense again. Our kids did a good job and came up with a big steal.”
Borgia was able to get the ball in its end and pushed quickly up to Unnerstall, who released a running shot near the midcourt stripe.
Everyone watched as the ball flew through the air, the buzzer went off and the ball went through the basket. Borgia student fans swarmed the court in frenzied elation.
Unnerstall’s shot was Borgia’s 12th three-point basket of the night.
The win was the 702nd for Neier, who was honored before the game for earning his 700th win at the Union Tournament last Friday. This was the first home game since that feat and Athletic Director Chris Arand presented him with the game ball.
Borgia’s scoring leader was Brendan Smith and the junior post player ended with 19 points. He scored seven of those in the final quarter as the Knights were trying to protect the lead.
“Brendan had a nice game,” Neier said. “He played really well in there. He played like a big man and I think they looked for him. He came up with some big shots and big scores.”
Unnerstall closed with 14 points.
Hunter Mehler, who played in the second half, made an impact with 13 points, including a dunk.
Dalton Shust saw extended playing time and scored 11 points with three three-point baskets.
“Dalton Shust came off the bench and hit some big shots for us,” Neier said. “Everybody contributed and it was a big thing.”
Michael Baylard hit three three-point baskets for his nine points. Max Meyers netted eight points. Eli Marquart knocked down two threes for his six points. Will Elbert added two points.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Neier said. “The amount of offensive rebounds we gave them and sometimes we got the rebound and they just pulled it out of our hands. They were just really aggressive. Playing that type of game hopefully helps our kids out in realizing how important it is to take care of the ball. There will be other teams that play the same way against us.”
Jordan Nesbitt led Lutheran North with 22 points.
Patterson scored 20 points for the Crusaders.
Jordan Smith closed with 15 points.
Jalen White also reached double digits with 10 points.
Tosin Ogunjobi and D’Vion Harris each added six points.
“You have to give them credit for how they played,” Neier said. “We’re just thankful to come out with the win.”