By KEVIN HARRIS
Class A No. 2 Borden’s home game against Class 2A No. 9 Paoli on Saturday was a contest where the Braves would find out where they are at this point of the season.
After suffering a 45-40 loss to the Rams, Borden discovered it has a lot of work to do if it plans on having a successful postseason for the second season in a row. The Braves are the defending Class A state champions.
Borden head coach Doc Nash says it all starts with how his players perform in practice.
“This game was an indication of how we’ve practiced for two days. It was an exact replica of the two practices we had this week,” said Nash, who saw his team’s 16-game winning streak end on Saturday. “When you don’t practice hard and you don’t try and get better, then it’s not going to get better. We need some senior leadership to step up. We need it right now, but we’re not getting it.”
The Braves (6-1) had the lead for nearly three-quarters of the contest. Their biggest advantage was 13-4 early in the second quarter after a Josh Vollstedt layup.
That is when the experienced Rams began to chip away at their deficit.
Paoli outscored Borden 13-9 in the second quarter to trail by only three points at halftime, 20-17.
The Rams (6-0) tied the game at 23 at the 5:49 mark of the third quarter on a basket by 6-foot-5 senior Tanner Wroblewski.
With Borden up 28-27 with 1:40 remaining in the third, Paoli finally took its first lead of the contest as Wroblewski converted a layup.
Wroblewski’s bucket kick-started a 6-0 run to end the stanza. Back-to-back baskets by senior guard Skyler Stroud during the spurt gave Paoli a 33-28 advantage.
Paoli’s run seemed to inspire the Braves in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Borden started the period with a 7-0 run to get the lead back at 35-33. Vollstedt started the spurt with a layup and a 3-pointer, followed by a bucket from senior forward Zack Gillam.
But with Borden leading 37-35 with about two minutes left, Paoli reeled off nine consecutive points to take the lead for good at 44-37 with 27.3 seconds left. Stroud and fellow Rams’ senior Evan Jones combined to knock down 5-of-6 free throws during the game-clinching run.
Paoli head coach Dusty Cole was proud of the way his seniors stepped up down the stretch.
“We were playing almost all seniors and a couple of juniors, so they’ve been through it a little bit. That experience was huge,” the second-year Rams’ boss said. “Like in about every game this year, we kind of struggled in the first half. It kind of takes us a little bit of time to get going. It seems like we’ve been a second-half team for the most part this season. We knew Borden was going to make runs. They are an outstanding team and they’ve been playing with so much confidence.”
Vollstedt scored a game-high 13 points, while Gillam chipped in 10. Gillam grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
Stroud and senior forward Dathan Chastain each paced Paoli with 10 points each. Wroblewski scored nine. Chastain and Wroblewski shared game-high rebounding honors with eight boards apiece.
“They flat-out wanted it more than we did,” Nash said. “They kicked our tail on the glass. We didn’t pass it and catch it. We didn’t shoot the ball well. We defended pretty well, but we didn’t finish possessions.
“Give them credit. It’s the best team we’ve played so far. They’re legit. Their size and physicality gave us fits.”
Borden will travel to Lanesville on Friday for a make-up game. It was postponed on Dec. 6 because of a winter storm.
PAOLI 45, BORDEN 40
Paoli 4 13 16 12—45
Borden 11 9 8 12—40
Paoli (6-0): Dathan Chastain 3-4 4-6 10, Skyler Stroud 4-9 2-2 10, Tanner Wroblewski 4-12 1-2 9, Austin Moore 4-8 0-0 8, Garrett Strange 2-6 0-1 5, Evan Jones 0-3 3-4 3, Josh Stewart 0-0 0-0 0, Ben Bosley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-42 10-15 45.
Borden (6-1): Josh Vollstedt 5-8 1-2 13, Zack Gillam 5-8 0-1 10, Cody Craddock 1-5 2-2 4, Caleb Hart 1-5 1-2 4, Brian McGee 2-8 0-1 4, Garrett Vick 0-6 3-4 3, Kyle Kruer 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 15-42 7-12 40.
3-point field goals: Paoli 1-12 (Strange 1-3, Jones 0-1, Moore 0-1, Stroud 0-3, Wroblewski 0-4); Borden 3-13 (Vollstedt 2-4, Hart 1-5, Kruer 0-1, Vick 0-1, McGee 0-2).
Rebounds: Paoli 32 (Chastain, Wroblewski 8); Borden 26 (Gillam 6).
Assists: Paoli 9 (Jones, Moore, Stroud, Wroblewski 2); Borden 5 (McGee, Vick 2).
Steals: Paoli 4 (Chastain, Jones, Strange, Wroblewski 1); Borden 2 (Gillam, McGee 1).
Turnovers: Paoli 11, Borden 13.
Total fouls: Paoli 13, Borden 19.
Fouled out: none.
JV: Borden 51, Paoli 37.