By MITZI THOMPSON
Lanesville shot 60 percent from the field to hold off a feisty and persistent Christian Academy 61-52, and Borden withstood a slow-paced and fairly inactive first half to beat New Washington 44-27 in the semifinal round of the Class A Borden Sectional on Friday night, thus setting the stage for Saturday’s championship game.
Borden will try to make it two in a row, while Lanesville looks for its first sectional trophy since the 2009-10 campaign.
“They’re going to be ready for us,” Borden coach Doc Nash said of the Eagles, who lost by eight points in the Braves’ gymnaseum on November 30 in the regular season. “But I think our kids will be focused and ready to respond.”
The sectional final will begin at 7:30 p.m.
A total of eight points were scored in the first quarter as New Washington’s zone slowed the pace and Borden’s tight defense didn’t even allow the Mustangs a look at the basket until four minutes had clicked off the game clock.
“I think that was his plan,” Nash said of Mustangs’ coach Jonathan May. “I think he wanted to play that way, and you know, that’s OK. We can play that way, too.”
New Washington (9-13) stayed within reaching distance for about 12 minutes until the Braves (19-3) picked things up a bit, thanks to a second-quarter run during which senior Michael Lynch scored eight points, giving them a 10-point advantage — a hefty lead in such a low-scoring venture.
During that stretch, all but two of Borden’s points came on second chances. For the game, the Braves collected 11 offensive boards and out-rebounded their opponent 25-13.
“That was one of the biggest things that hurt us,” May said of the boards. “But I really do think our kids did exactly what we asked them to do. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. They worked their tails off, and if you look back at the past two or three seasons, you can see the difference. If you can’t see the way our kids have improved over the past seasons, you haven’t been to many of our basketball games.”
Sophomore Logan Miles helped the Mustangs close the gap to four points at the break with a pair of 3-pointers in the waning minutes of the half.
“I wasn’t real thrilled about those 3’s,” said Nash. “He’s their biggest knockdown shooter and we left him wide open out there.”
But Borden seniors Billy Kirchgessner and Jalen McCoy made up for it, draining a trey apiece in the opening minutes of the second half.
By the fourth quarter, the game was all but out of reach for New Wash, which went without a field goal for four minutes during the period.
The Mustangs lose the bulk of their starting lineup with seven seniors bidding adieu, including Dustin Cooper and Wesley Napier, who combined for 15 points.
Lynch was the only Brave to hit double figures Friday, scoring 10 and picking up six rebounds.
Lanesville used a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take an early lead in Friday’s opener and force Christian Academy to play catch-up — a feat the Warriors couldn’t quite accomplish despite threatening several times.
“Lanesville is a very, very dangerous team,” said Christian Academy coach Steve Kerberg. “They have a lot of offensive weapons. We knew that coming in. They’re a deep team and they have the ability to score a lot and put pressure on you.”
The Warriors lose five seniors off this season’s 11-10 team, including stars Aaron Hayes and DeVonta King.
“I’m very proud of these guys. The biggest thing I’m proud of is that they never gave up,” said Kerberg. “A lot of things didn’t go our way tonight, but they never gave up.”
The Warriors used a spread offense and a lot of patience early in the second quarter to almost get back what they lost in the first quarter, closing a 17-9 gap to 17-16. But junior Jack Ferree jumpstarted Lanesville’s offense with an old-fashioned three-point play followed by a short jumper and by the half, the Eagles were back on top by eight.
Christian Academy’s next and final threat came in the first minutes of the fourth quarter. Trailing by 13, the Warriors capitalized on a few Lanesville misfires and two turnovers by the Eagles and got to within four points at 42-38, but that was the best they could muster.
Lanesville outscored the Warriors 19-14 in the last five minutes.
Hayes led all scorers, dropping in 20 points for the Warriors. King scored 17. Each grabbed nine rebounds.
The Eagles were led by Justin Miller’s 16 points and four assists.