By GREG MENGELT
There were a lot of factors that went into Borden’s 55-50 Class A state championship game victory over Triton at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Borden on Saturday.
The Braves knocked down 8-of-14 shots from behind the 3-point line, while Triton was able to sink only four of its 17 3-point shots. According to Borden coach Doc Nash, eight 3’s was his team’s highest total of the season.
Jalen McCoy scored 15 points and Billy Kirchgessner was everywhere during this 9-point, 5-rebound, 4-assist, 3-steal performance. Michael Lynch scored 13 and Cody Bachman added 10 for a balanced Braves attack.
Borden turned the ball over just six times, none in the opening quarter and only once in the first half.
Triton only out-rebounded the much smaller Braves 28-23 and the Braves never trailed.
But there’s little debate about what the No. 1 key was to bringing home Borden’s first state championship trophy: Defense. In particular, the job done on Triton star Clay Yeo. In particular, the job done by Bachman on Yeo.
With help from his teammates, Bachman held the future Valparaiso Crusader to two first-half points on 1-of-6 shooting. As a result, the Trojans managed just two second-quarter points as a team. That allowed Borden to take an 18-9 lead into intermission.
“Unreal!” Nash said of Bachman’s first-half defense on Yeo. “Cody’s a winner. He’s a competitor. Goodness gracious, he held a Division I player to two. It started with his mentality and it carried over to everyone else.”
Bachman had plenty of help. Any time Yeo went anywhere near the lane, a Brave or two was there to greet him.
“It was a great team effort defensively to hold them to nine points in a half,” Nash praised.
Although Yeo is a solid 3-point shooter at 32.3 percent for the year coming into the title game, Nash allowed Bachman to play the Indiana All-Star candidate one-on-one on the perimeter.
“That’s been our philosophy all year long, make someone beat us other than [opponents’] top players,” Nash said. “Our defensive philosophy is to give up some 3’s. We aren’t going to change who we are or what we do. We tell our kids that if their kids make some 3’s, we’ll make adjustments.”
Yeo awoke a bit in the third quarter, scoring five of Triton’s 10 points and keeping the Trojans within nine, 28-19 at the end of three periods.
In the fourth, Yeo exploded. He got to the bucket with ease and went 6-for-9 from the field, including knocking down two of his five 3-point attempts. He also got to the foul line five times and made them all.
In the end, Yeo’s fourth-quarter outburst didn’t matter. Bachman and the Braves held Yeo in check long enough to get a sizeable lead and his performance wasn’t enough to keep Borden from its date with destiny.
“He killed me in the fourth quarter, but I knew as long as I could keep him in check, that we’d be able to weather it,” Bachman said.
“I kept yelling, ‘It’s going to Yeo, it’s going to Yeo, it’s going to Yeo,’” Nash recalled. “Give him credit, man. The kid is good. He’s more athletic than us, he’s bigger than us. What can you do? He’s the best player we’ve played. We did our best to counter him.”
It was a rollercoaster ride of a calendar year for Bachman.
After helping the Braves to a 19-1 regular season as a junior, he broke his leg in a freak practice accident. During a drill, he came down with a rebound and his leg snapped. Nash said there was nothing unusual about the way Bachman came down, but he and the Braves knew immediately that his injury was serious.
Borden won the sectional without the 6-foot-2 forward. Without him, the Braves fell to Orleans in the opening round of the regional, 68-48.
“It was tough sitting on the sideline at regional,” Bachman recalled. “Whenever you sit back and look at it, you’re just thankful for being out there. Whenever you have an experience like that that sets you back, it just motivates you to go harder.”
Bachman is the only Brave regular who didn’t grow up in Borden. He began his high school career at Christian Academy as a freshman before moving to the West Clark school district as a sophomore.
That hasn’t kept him from embracing the town and fighting to bring Borden its first state championship.
“It hasn’t set in how big this is for the community,” Bachman said minutes after the victory. “Not just the community, but Southern Indiana. Since I’ve been in Borden, it’s probably the biggest thing in the history of [Borden]. Hopefully we’ll be remember in a good way, and honestly, I think we will be.
“We just wanted to go out on a high note. Not just for us, but for [athletic director Toby] Cheatham and [principal Lisa] Nale, the entire school and the community.”