By KEVIN HARRIS
For decades, Borden High School boys’ basketball fans could only dream about their beloved Braves possibly winning a state championship.
On Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, that dream became reality.
Borden led the Class A state championship game from start to finish and defeated Triton, 55-50. It was the first state title for the western Clark County school in any sport.
“These guys are an amazing group of kids,” seventh-year Braves’ coach Doc Nash said. “These guys are very, very high-character kids. They deserve this moment. They’ve worked their tails off since Day 1 to get to where they are. I can’t say enough good things about them. I’m proud of them.
“It’s unbelievable. To win this group of kids is really special.”
Borden senior Cody Bachman said all of the Braves had set a goal of winning a state championship since last season when they lost in the Class A Loogootee Regional semifinal to Orleans, 68-48.
“We’ve been talking about this since last year. I mean, we talk about it every year,” Bachman said. “We knew it was possible.”
Borden’s 3-point shooting and its overall defense were the critical factors in claiming the coveted state title.
The Class A No. 10 Braves (24-3) outscored the Trojans 24-12 from behind the 3-point arc, shooting 8-of-14 (57.1 percent). Borden was 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the second half alone (66.7 percent).
The Braves’ main 3-point threat was Jalen McCoy. The 6-foot-1 senior guard made three of his eight 3-point attempts as he ended up with a team-high 15 points.
Borden’s man-to-man defense gave Triton (20-6) fits for the majority of the contest, especially in the first half.
For the game, the Trojans shot 18-of-43 from the field (41.9 percent) and 4-of-17 from 3-point range (23.5 percent). Entering the Class A state final, Triton had a 49.1 field-goal percentage and a 35.6 3-point percentage.
In the opening half, the Trojans scored only nine points as they misfired on 12 of their 16 field-goal attempts in the first 16 minutes. In fact, they scored only two points in the second quarter.
Borden’s primary focus on defense was 6-6 Triton senior guard Clay Yeo. The Valparaiso University signee scored only two points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half. He entered the game as the state’s fourth-leading scorer at 26.3 points per contest.
But Yeo got going in the second half, as he tallied 24 of his game-high 26 points. He was 8-of-12 from the floor in the latter half.
The Braves’ largest lead was 12 points, which occurred in two different instances. The last time they held a 12-point advantage was at 31-19 when Bachman made a three-point play with 7:54 remaining in regulation.
The Trojans made one final charge. They got their deficit down to 50-47 with 1:18 left on two Yeo free throws.
Triton would not get any closer. The Braves hit 5-of-6 free throws the rest of the way and the celebration by the Borden faithful began.
Two other Braves scored in double figures. Senior Michael Lynch had 13 points and Bachman finished with 10. Borden senior point guard Billy Kirchgessner had nine points, five rebounds and game-highs in assists (four) and steals (three).
Lynch earned the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award in Class A boys’ basketball. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,000 scholarship to Borden High School in Lynch’s name for winning the honor.