By KEVIN HARRIS
On Saturday night, Class A No. 3 Borden’s 19-year wait to get another crack at West Clark sister school Silver Creek finally ended.
Unfortunately for the host Braves, they could not find a way to defeat the Dragons for the third time in program history. Silver Creek snapped a three-game losing streak in knocking off Borden, 60-51.
The Dragons now lead the all-time series with the Braves, 38-2. It was the first meeting between the schools since the 1994 Jeffersonville Sectional, which Silver Creek won 67-50.
Saturday’s matchup, which was the first game in a four-year contract between the West Clark foes, was the first regular-season meeting between the Braves and Dragons since Feb. 10, 1940.
Creek came out on top in that contest, 36-32. Borden’s last victory against the Dragons happened on Feb. 17, 1933 in a 24-23 triumph.
Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman expected a physical and emotional game, and that is exactly what the capacity crowd of almost 2,500 got.
“I know they have been looking forward to this game for a long time,” Hoffman said. “I just have so much respect for [Borden coach Doc Nash] and his program. I knew we had to play an excellent game against them.”
The Dragons (3-8) got off to a fast start and led 19-6 at the end of the opening quarter. Creek knocked down eight of its 11 field goal attempts in the first period, and it went on a nine-point run to end the stanza.
“It was very important,” Hoffman said about his team’s great start. “We’re a young team and sometimes we wait until it’s too late to click [the offense] on. That was our focus — to get off to a good start.”
Borden’s first quarter shooting was completely ice cold, as it missed nine of its 11 shots in the period. It was a sign of things to come as the Braves (9-1) finished the game shooting 15-of-44 from the floor (34.1 percent).
“We just weren’t ready to play. We couldn’t make a shot and we couldn’t finish a shot,” Nash said about the opening period. “We dug ourselves a hole and never came out of it. It’s embarrassing. They came out on fire. Give them credit — they made shots. They made shots and we didn’t.”
The Braves chipped away at Silver Creek’s early double-digit lead for the rest of the contest. They outscored the Dragons 13-8 to cut their deficit to 27-19 at halftime. Borden started the third quarter with five straight points to get within three at 27-24.
“We actually made a few shots in the third, and defensively we did a better job in the third,” Nash said. “But they just kicked our tail on the glass. They absolutely manhandled us and we didn’t fight back.
“It’s just embarrassing. I’m absolutely embarrassed that a Borden team played that soft.”
Silver Creek got its advantage back up to seven a few times during the second half. The Dragons went up 42-35 early in the fourth quarter on a bucket by 6-foot-5 sophomore Jake Steele.
Senior Billy Kirchgessner got Borden back within three at 44-41 after converting a basket with about 4:30 left in regulation.
But the Braves got no closer.
Silver Creek concluded the game by outscoring Borden, 16-10. The Dragons got most of their points at the free-throw line during that stretch, converting 10-of-14 foul shots.
“I think we played with a lot of poise at the end,” Hoffman said. “We had a variety of guys step up and make some plays for us at the end, and we made enough free throws.”
Sophomore Gabe Bauer paced Silver Creek with 13 points. Steele had 11 points and a team-high six rebounds. The Dragons ended up shooting 21-of-38 from the field (55.3 percent).
“I told Coach Hoffman that they were the best 2-8 team in the state. Now, they are the best 3-8 team in the state,” Nash said. “They’re young, but they’re skilled and can make plays. They beat us in every aspect of the game tonight — every aspect. Coach Hoffman deserves a world of credit.
“Tonight, we laid an egg. It’s disappointing ‚ the biggest game on our schedule and we laid an egg.”
Kirchgessner was the only Brave to score in double digits with a career-high 28 points. The 6-foot point guard shot 8-of-14 from the field and 11-of-17 from the stripe.
“He’s a winner,” Nash said. “He willed some shots in and he took some bad ones. But you know what, he’s our senior leader and he’s the best we’ve got.”
Borden struggled mightily in its perimeter shooting, especially from 3-point range. The Braves were only 1-of-16 from behind the arc against Silver Creek’s tough zone defense.
“Our zone can cause a lot of fits,” Hoffman said.
Both teams will hit the road on Friday. The Dragons will visit Class 3A No. 9 Brownstown Central, while Borden will travel to Austin.