BY MITZI THOMPSON
After a shaky start against a big and athletic Silver Creek, Borden settled into its offense and clawed its way back from an early deficit to take a 52-45 win in front of a packed house.
The Class A No. 3-ranked Braves improve to 9-1. Their only loss was a five-point heartbreaker against a powerful seventh-ranked, undefeated Class 2A Paoli two weeks ago.
On Saturday, Silver Creek’s size and physicality had Borden playing uncharacteristically off-balanced for the first several minutes. Instead of buckling and wearing down as they eventually did against the Rams, the Braves used their strengths — patience, execution and discipline — to take control of the tempo and of the game.
“What a game,” said Borden coach Doc Nash, whose team — as usual — brought a raucous, bleacher-filling fan base. “It had to be fun to watch as a fan. It was fun to coach. … This was a good win, a big win for us to get.”
Trailing by as many as nine points in the opening minutes thanks to six quick turnovers, which Silver Creek (6-3) capitalized on, Borden found its groove and outscored the Dragons 20-9 in the second quarter, taking its first lead on a free throw by Brian McGee. After that, Silver Creek scraped and scrapped but never led again.
“It was just a matter of us getting slowed down and settled down and overcoming the momentum,” said Nash. “Paoli was big and very strong, but Silver Creek is the most athletic team we’ve played this year. It took us a few minutes to overcome and get settled.”
The Braves stretched their first-half lead with a perfectly-executed double-screen play that led to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by sophomore Caleb Hart to give the visitors a 26-22 advantage going into the break.
“We wanted to establish the tempo and we did that for a while,” said Dragons’ coach Brandon Hoffman. “We wanted to dictate the tempo of the game and get the ball inside. When we couldn’t get it inside anymore, our guys got impatient and started shooting perimeter shots that just weren’t good shots.”
For the game, Silver Creek went 13 of 51 from the field, including 2 of 25 from 3-point range.
“I think our guys’ pride is hurt a little bit,” added Hoffman. “Borden just basically came in here and out-toughed us. Their crowd was great, their coaching is great and their players were great, and we just didn’t play well enough to win.”
The Dragons did manage to close a triple-possession fourth-quarter gap to three points with a 5-0 scoring spurt, which appeared to switch the momentum. The change was quick and temporary as Borden finished things at the free-throw line, going 6 for 7 to end the game.
Senior Garrett Vick scored nine of the Braves’ 16 points in the final period and made a beautiful dish to teammate Josh Vollstedt who scored and put Borden up 49-42 with less than a minute to go.
Vick — the team’s only four-year-starter — finished with a game-leading 16 points and a team-best eight rebounds, and was instrumental in the Braves’ second-quarter come-from-behind charge.
“He played tremendous for us tonight,” said Nash. “That’s what we expect from him and need from him.”
Gabe Bauer led Silver Creek in scoring with 12 points. Sophomore Christian Reed grabbed 10 rebounds and scored six points.
BORDEN 52, SILVER CREEK 45
Broden 6 20 10 16—52
Silver Creek 13 9 8 15—45
Borden (9-1): Vick 16, McGee 11, Craddock 10, Gilliam 8, Vollstedt 4, Hart 3.
Silver Creek (6-3): Bauer 12, Steele 10, Reed 6, Tinsley 6, Durham 4, Howell 3, Davidson 2, Garr 2.
3-point field goals: Borden 1 (Hart); Silver Creek 2 (Bauer, Howell).
Rebounds: Borden 27 (Vick 8); Silver Creek 25 (Reed 10).