The host Braves’ hopes of a repeat state championship were ended in the semifinal round of the Class A Borden Sectional Friday night against Rock Creek Academy, and Lanesville took things down to the wire with a late surge past Christian Academy.
Rock Creek (15-9), which fell to Lanesville 71-62 on Feb. 13 during the regular season, goes for its second-ever sectional championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Lions’ last title was claimed in the 2010-11 season. Lanesville (14-8) won the year before that.
ROCK CREEK 67, BORDEN 48
Four Lions scored in double-figures in a balanced assault of reigning state champion Borden. Rock Creek decisive run began just before halftime and escalated over the next two quarters.
After trailing the entire way, the Lions used a 3-minute-long 11-2 run to give them a one-point lead going into the break, 24-23.
After that, the Lions never looked back and outscored the Braves 43-25 in the second half.
“These kids have proven they can fight hard and battle back,” said Rock Creek coach Chris Brown.”This is a really good win for our guys. We had kind of a shaky beginning, maybe nerves or whatever, and Borden is a phenomenal team. They’re well-coached and they’re a hard team to beat. But we knew we were going to do what Rock Creek does — play hard defense, get rebounds and finish inside.”
The combination of those three things — along with a 3-pointer by guard Will Brown -- accounted for the Lions’ 11-point third-quarter swing that changed the game for good.
Down by three at 29-26 after back-to-back buckets by Borden senior Zack Gillam, Brown’s trey sparked the run with a long-ball. Lions’ junior Gedeon Nzombi followed with a putback before teammate Ronald Karenzi scored six straight points to finish the run and put Rock Creek up 37-29.
The Braves never got back within striking distance again.
“We’re a team on a mission,” said senior forward Devin Burt, who led the Lions in scoring with 22 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. “We want sectional, then regionals, then who knows what after that. One step at a time.”
“I think this is probably the best win I’ve ever been a part of,” said Will Brown. “So far.”
Will Brown scored 16, and Nzombi turned in a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 power forward also blocked four shots. Karenzi added 11 points.
“Their size affected every shot we had,” Borden coach Doc Nash said. “We couldn’t make a shot. If you can’t make a shot, you’re not going to win any games.”
Borden graduates its entire starting lineup off this year’s 16-5 squad, including Garrett Vick who led the team in with 14 points and 15 rebounds Friday night.
“We’ve got six seniors in [the lockerroom] who have put a lot into our program, and I can’t thank them enough,” Nash said. “We feel like every other team in the right now that’s not playing [tonight]. When you put a lot of hard work in it and it ends in a matter of two minutes, it hurts. If you’re not working hard, it ain’t going to hurt.”