By MITZI THOMPSON
The seventh-ranked Borden basketball team wrapped up a perfect 5-0 Southern Athletic Conference schedule on Saturday with a decisive 64-40 win over Henryville, finishing atop the league for the third straight year.
Last season, the Braves suffered their only conference loss in the last three seasons at Henryville.
On Saturday, there was no chance that was going to happen again.
Seventh-ranked Class A Borden wasted no time taking control, running up a 21-5 lead over fledgling Henryville, which fell to 0-3 in the SAC and 0-11 overall.
“[Winning the conference] is good for the kids. They’re excited about it and they worked hard for it,” said Borden coach Doc Nash.
Lanesville and New Washington are currently tied for second in the league with 2-1 records and two more conference games to play, including a matchup against each other on Feb. 1. Crothersville — last year’s co-champion with the Braves — sits at the bottom with Henryville. The Hornets host the Tigers on Feb. 1.
“It’s a goal for us every year,” said Braves senior guard Jalen McCoy, who finished with a team-high 17 points, 11 of which came in the first half with the remaining six coming on back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third quarter before Nash called off the dogs and gave his starters a break for much of the duration. “At the beginning of the season, we give ourselves a set of goals, and one of them is always to win the conference. Going into tournament time, this is a huge confidence boost for us.”
Henryville was led by senior Tyler Collins’ impressive showing of 20 points and seven rebounds but was unable to get much of anything going against the quick and disciplined Braves.
“We are a work in progress,” said Henryville coach Dan Carmony. “But I think we are making some good strides in the right direction. Some people might hear that and think this guy is out of his mind, but from where we were a few months ago, where these kids were — not even having a gym to play in [following the tornado last March — to where we are now, we’re making some good strides.
“Every night, every practice, our goal is to get better at something, and facing a team like Borden helps us to get better.”
The Braves stretched a 44-16 halftime lead to a 38-point advantage in the second half before the Hornets went on an 11-2 fourth quarter run with Borden’s starting five on the bench.
“Coach wants us to go out and compete every night, no matter who we’re playing,” said Borden senior Billy Kirchgessner, who finished with 11 points — all in the first half — along with eight boards and five assists. “We have to go out and play our game and do all the fundamentals we’ve been taught.”
Borden outrebounded Henryville 37-19 and 11-4 on offensive boards — a deceiving stat considering that the Braves didn’t give up any second-chance boards until 1:55 left in the game when Collins put back his own miss.
Both teams return to action on Friday when Borden visits 16th-ranked Orleans and Henryville travels to South Central.