By GREG MENGELT
During Tuesday’s Borden media day, Borden coach Doc Nash and the Braves listed several things they’ll have to do to win Saturday’s Class A state championship game against Triton in Indianapolis.
Of course, the Braves need to make shots. They have to crash the boards against the bigger Trojans. And, of course, they have to keep their composure in the rarefied air of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
But there’s no debate about the Braves’ most crucial key to success: Slow down Clay Yeo.
Borden has fared well against big players during its past three playoff victories. The Braves held Orleans’ 6-foot-9 Jake Barkley to four points in the Class A Loogootee Regional semifinal. They then did a remarkable job on Barr-Reeve’s 6-6 versatile big man Addison Wagler, who finished with just 11 points in the regional final, before Saturday’s 44-47 Class A Seymour Semistate victory in which University’s 6-8 Dominic Dixon was limited to nine points.
But the 6-6 Yeo isn’t Barkley, Dixon or even Wagler. He’ll present a unique challenge for the Braves.
“He’s totally different than all those other [big] kids,” Nash said. “He’s skilled, inside and outside. He’s the best player we’re going to play against all year, obviously. He’s nothing like we’ve seen.
“He’s very, very talented. He has a lot of moves. He’s another big challenge, but our kids are up for it.”
“Most of the big kids we’ve played are 6-7 or 6-6, but they’re slow post players,” Borden senior forward Cody Bachman evaluated. “He’s an athletic player. I’ve seen highlights of him fast-break dunking it. He’s not the kind of kid you’re going to face a ton.”
The Valparaiso University recruit is the state’s fourth-leading scorer at 26.3 points per game. He also pulls down 7.9 boards per contest while shooting 57 percent from the floor.
“He’s a Mr. Basketball candidate for a reason,” Braves’ senior Jalen McCoy said. “Of course, he can score and he’s athletic as heck. He’s going to be a load for us, but I think we’re up for the challenge.”
Nash has been touting the defense of Bachman, who will draw the main assignment against Yeo, all season. On Saturday, Bachman will find out just how good his defense is.
“I’ve guarded the best player on the other team all year,” Bachman said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m ready for it. Hopefully, I can do enough to get us a victory.”
“When I came in [Tuesday], I said, ‘Cody, you have a major task ahead of you.’ He said, ‘I can guard him’ with all the confidence in the world,” Nash recalled. “I don’t want that to be ammunition for [Yeo]. But if anyone can do it, it’s going to be Cody Bachman.”
Bachman’s teammates are equally confident he can at least slow down the Trojan star.
“I don’t think he’ll get his average,” Braves’ senior Michael Lynch predicted. “I think he’ll be well below his average. We’re looking to hold him to about 15 points. If we can do that — and contain their other players — we’ll be fine.”
“I have 100 percent confidence he’ll do a good job on him,” Borden senior Billy Kirchgessner said.
Bachman won’t be alone in trying to stop Yeo, who has 1,353 career points and has done just about everything in his career except win a state championship. Nash said the entire team will have some responsibility to try to slow the Triton star.
“Bachman will match up with him, but we’ll try different schemes,” Nash said.
“It’s going to take team defense,” McCoy said. “He’s averaging as many points as he is for a reason.”
“We’re going to have to keep Clay under control,” Bachman said. “If we can keep him in check, we should be set up for success.”