By KEVIN HARRIS
The foundation of the Borden High School boys’ basketball team, which will play in the Class A state championship game on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis against Triton, has been its four seniors.
This quartet has provided the Class A No. 10 Braves (23-3) leadership and solid fundamental play throughout their historic 2012-13 season.
One of those seniors who has made contributions in both of those areas is 6-foot-2 forward Michael Lynch.
Lynch is averaging nine points and 4.2 rebounds per game this year. Plus he has held his own against opposing forwards and centers who are bigger than him throughout the season.
“He has the ability to score. He’s undersized, but he’s crafty. He‘s got a ton of heart,” Borden coach Doc Nash said. “He gets a lot of different things done for us. He brings rebounding to us, scoring points and defending [the other team’s biggest player].”
Nash says the main improvement Lynch has made since his freshman year is his confidence. The confidence boost has helped Lynch become a better shooter and more effective scorer.
“He’s confident in what he does now,” Nash said. “He wants the ball and he wants to score points for us. His jump shooting has gotten better over the years and his ability to finish. He’s gained a ton of physical strength and that’s gotten better for him. He’s more confident in everything he does.
“We try to get him established early and open up the inside game. When they worry about him, that opens up [teammate] Jalen [McCoy] on the perimeter.”
Nash also likes the way Lynch has evolved into a team leader.
“He‘s a leader that talks to his teammates,” Nash said. “His normal personality is he’s really quiet. But on the court, he talks and gets a lot of stuff done for us.”
On Tuesday afternoon, News and Tribune sports reporter Kevin Harris traveled to Borden High School to talk to Lynch about the amazing state tournament run he and his teammates have been on this season.
• QUESTION: When I say, “Borden is in the Class A state championship game,” what goes through your mind?
• LYNCH: “I couldn’t even tell you. It doesn’t seem like we are in the state championship game. It’s unreal.”
• Q: Your team’s cheering section was packed last Saturday at the Class A Seymour Semistate. When you saw all your fans, who sat all the way up to the top row at Scott Gym, what was your reaction?
• LYNCH: “I was trying to keep a straight face. But they were so loud. When we ran out onto the court, it was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard a gym get. It was awesome.”
• Q: Your fellow students rushed the court last Saturday shortly after you won the semistate. What was going through your mind when they were running towards you?
• LYNCH: “Don’t hurt me. Everyone was running up to me giving me hugs and wanting pictures. I ran up to my teammates and we just said, ‘We can’t believe it — we’re going to state.’”
• Q: Your team has won your last three tournament games by a combined five points. How have you guys pulled out those close contests?
• LYNCH: “In the two one-point wins at regional, we were actually up by more [in each game]. But they hit last-second shots and made [those games] look closer. In the semistate, we had the game won. We just missed free throws late and still gave them a chance to come back. We’re so used to playing close games now that it’s just second nature that we know the games are going to be close, and we’re starting to get used to the pressure now.”
• Q: Basically, what is your role on this team?
• LYNCH: “My role is to keep their big guys off the glass, get rebounds and put the ball in the hole whenever I have a chance. Most bigger guys that I go up against are slower and I can get around them.”
• Q: You are one of four seniors on this team. How close are you guys? Are you guys pretty good friends?
• LYNCH: “We have most of the same classes. We hang out pretty regularly outside of basketball. We’ve been playing for so many years now.”
• Q: How does that good rapport you have with the other seniors and the other upperclassmen on your squad help you when you get out on the court?
• LYNCH: “We have four seniors and three juniors and the experience we had last year winning sectional and going to regional … we’re all used to playing with each other. We know who does what and all they can do.”
• Q: Being a senior, how much are you expected to provide leadership for the team?
• LYNCH: “With there being four seniors, there is just not one specific leader. Sometimes, I’ll step up and take charge. Sometimes, it’s either Billy Kirchgessner or Cody Bachman or Jalen McCoy taking that lead role.”
• Q: Triton has had a lot of success in the state tournament in the past. What have your coaches told you about the Trojans this week?
• LYNCH: “They made it to the state championship for a reason. They’re [undefeated] in the postseason like we are. Obviously, it’s going to be our No. 1 biggest challenge of the year. They have a really good scorer [in Clay Yeo] and it’s going to test Cody on defense. But it’s just not that one guy. All their other players are really good, too.”
• Q: Yeo is averaging 26.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and three assists per game. What can you tell me about him?
• LYNCH: “He scores just about whenever he wants to. He mostly uses his right hand and he’s really good at getting to the rim.”
• Q: What would it mean to you to win a state championship?
• LYNCH: “Us four seniors, we want to leave something behind here for this Borden program for people to look up to, and a state championship would set the bar as high as it can go. All the younger kids look up to us. They’re always running up to us after games, wanting autographs or high-fives. It’s just good to be able to set that bar high and have those kids go for it. A state championship ring would be nice, too.”
• Q: Have you ever been to Bankers Life Fieldhouse before?
• LYNCH: “No, I haven’t.”
• Q: How much are you looking forward to playing at an arena where the Indiana Pacers play their home games and college teams like Indiana, Purdue and Butler have played in the past?
• LYNCH: “For me, playing in Seymour was the biggest gym I’ve ever played in and that holds 8,000 people. This one holds 18,000, so that’s more than double the size. I can’t even imagine how big the place must be. I am excited and I look forward to going there.”