By GREG MENGELT
All season, Borden has made it clear that getting to Indianapolis for the Class A state championship game was its goal.
Now that the Braves have accomplished that, they should be satisfied. Right?
“We’re going for a state championship ring. We’re going to win,” Borden coach Doc Nash said. “If we weren’t going to win, we wouldn’t go. Second place does nothing for me. [Getting to state] is a good accomplishment. Is it good enough? No.”
“We’re here to win,” Braves’ senior guard Jalen McCoy said. “We’ll be disappointed if we lose. Either way, it’s our last game and we’re going to give it our all.”
Only Triton (20-5) stands in the way of Borden (23-3) and its first state championship. The Braves and Trojans go head-to-head at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“Knowing that we’re 32 minutes away from a championship, not getting it done, that would be disappointing.” Borden senior Michael Lynch said.
“If we lose, it’s still a disappointment,” Braves’ senior forward Cody Bachman added. “Our biggest goal at the beginning of the season was to win state, so if we lose it will be a disappointment. After seeing how the community responded to us [at semistate], it would be a huge letdown.”
“At the beginning of the season, we wanted to win a championship. Getting second wouldn’t be doing that,” Borden senior guard Billy Kirchgessner said.
Junior Garrett Vick is the only Brave returning next season. For McCoy, Bachman, Lynch and Kirchgessner, Saturday is the last shot at bringing home the crown to Borden.
Vick wants to help send his teammates out on the right note.
“I think it would be a heartbreak to send the seniors out the wrong way. They deserve to leave as No. 1,” he said. “We know if we get runner-up we get a ring. We don’t want to get the red ring. We want the blue ring.”
BORDEN STATE FINALS PERSPECTIVES
News and Tribune staff and area coaches and athletic directors weighed in on Borden’s trip to Saturday’s Class A state championship at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Braves will face Triton on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.:
• Greg Mengelt, News and Tribune sports editor: “Borden simply has proven it has what it takes to be a champion. The Braves are experienced, gritty and mentally tough. Beating Triton won’t be easy, but neither was beating Orleans, Barr-Reeve or University. It will be low-scoring, but at this point it would be a mistake to pick against Doc Nash and his players. Prediction: Borden 57, Triton 54.”
• Kevin Harris, News and Tribune sports reporter: “Triton has built a solid tradition in Class A basketball and has one of the best players in the state in Clay Yeo, so I guess on paper the Trojans are the favorites. But my gut feeling is Borden is a team of destiny and is going to find a way to win a state championship on Saturday. The Braves have been finding a way to win tournament games the past few weeks, so what’s stopping them now. Plus they have a veteran team that has a great rapport with each other and are well-coached. I think that will get them over the top, but it will be close. Prediction: Borden 58, Triton 56.”
• Matt Koesters, News and Tribune news reporter: “Doc Nash has this Borden squad playing together. There aren’t any superstars on the Braves, and I get the feeling that that’s how Nash likes it. Every player on the squad contributes in his own way, and each player is basketball smart. The Braves are playing with house money at this point — but then again, so is Triton. Both teams are defensively adept, so I expect a low-scoring contest with Borden earning its first state championship in school history. Prediction: Borden 42, Triton 40.”
• Daniel Suddeath, news reporter: “I was impressed with how Borden handled and shot the ball, particularly from 3-point range, against University. If they continue to play steady, heady and consistent basketball, the Braves should bring home the first Borden state basketball title. Prediction: Borden 51, Triton 46.”
• Mike Riley, News and Tribune sports correspondent: “Borden has proven that they have what it takes — a group of seniors that has shown they can win the close ones. Saturday will be no different. Make it Borden 60, Triton 55. Go on and print the T-shirts. Prediction: Borden 60, Triton 55.”
• Jim Shannon, New Albany boys’ basketball coach: “Doc and his kids have made an incredible run this season and there is no reason they cannot bring home a state championship trophy to our area. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and they need to soak it up like a sponge. We wish them the best of luck on Saturday.”
• Brandon Hoffman, Silver Creek boys’ basketball coach: “The game honors toughness. Borden has a great group of steel-jawed and blue-collar players. I was at the semistate game, and they just flat out-toughed University. Their play and pride represents their coach, program, and community. They have been awesome to follow, and we will be rooting for them.”
• Mike Hutsell, former News and Tribune sports editor: “The story of Borden basketball is truly what Indiana high school hoops is all about. That’s not just a team that’s playing for the state title. It’s a community playing for the state title. Generations of families grew up attending and playing basketball at Borden High School. Seeing the Braves play in the state title game — it’s the final chapter of a storybook season.”
• John Hobson, New Washington athletic director: “The Borden Braves have shown great resilience this postseason. Their outstanding teamwork and determination have given their fans and all of Southern Indiana some unforgettable memories. They have made their community and the Southern Athletic Conference proud. Good Luck to Coach Nash and the Braves on Saturday.”