BY MITZI THOMPSON
The host Braves’ hopes of a repeat state championship were ended in the semifinal round of the Class A Borden Sectional Friday night against Rock Creek Academy, and Lanesville took things down to the wire with a late surge past Christian Academy.
Rock Creek (15-9), which fell to Lanesville 71-62 on Feb. 13 during the regular season, goes for its second-ever sectional championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Lions’ last title was claimed in the 2010-11 season. Lanesville (14-8) won the year before that.
ROCK CREEK 67, BORDEN 48
Four Lions scored in double-figures in a balanced assault of reigning state champion Borden. Rock Creek decisive run began just before halftime and escalated over the next two quarters.
After trailing the entire way, the Lions used a 3-minute-long 11-2 run to give them a one-point lead going into the break, 24-23.
After that, the Lions never looked back and outscored the Braves 43-25 in the second half.
“These kids have proven they can fight hard and battle back,” said Rock Creek coach Chris Brown.”This is a really good win for our guys. We had kind of a shaky beginning, maybe nerves or whatever, and Borden is a phenomenal team. They’re well-coached and they’re a hard team to beat. But we knew we were going to do what Rock Creek does — play hard defense, get rebounds and finish inside.”
The combination of those three things — along with a 3-pointer by guard Will Brown -- accounted for the Lions’ 11-point third-quarter swing that changed the game for good.
Down by three at 29-26 after back-to-back buckets by Borden senior Zack Gillam, Brown’s trey sparked the run with a long-ball. Lions’ junior Gedeon Nzombi followed with a putback before teammate Ronald Karenzi scored six straight points to finish the run and put Rock Creek up 37-29.
The Braves never got back within striking distance again.
“We’re a team on a mission,” said senior forward Devin Burt, who led the Lions in scoring with 22 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. “We want sectional, then regionals, then who knows what after that. One step at a time.”
“I think this is probably the best win I’ve ever been a part of,” said Will Brown. “So far.”
Will Brown scored 16, and Nzombi turned in a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 power forward also blocked four shots. Karenzi added 11 points.
“Their size affected every shot we had,” Borden coach Doc Nash said. “We couldn’t make a shot. If you can’t make a shot, you’re not going to win any games.”
Borden graduates its entire starting lineup off this year’s 16-5 squad, including Garrett Vick who led the team in with 14 points and 15 rebounds Friday night.
“We’ve got six seniors in [the lockerroom] who have put a lot into our program, and I can’t thank them enough,” Nash said. “We feel like every other team in the right now that’s not playing [tonight]. When you put a lot of hard work in it and it ends in a matter of two minutes, it hurts. If you’re not working hard, it ain’t going to hurt.”
LANESVILLE 63, CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 61
After trailing by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and by 14 with 6:56 left in teh second semifinal, Lanesville used a fourth-quarter surge to make Friday’s nightcap the most exciting game of the sectional thus far, with the outcome uncertain until the final buzzer.
The Eagles, who trailed 28-16 at the half and 44-32 after three quarters, took their first lead with 1:26 left on the clock at 57-56 after back-to-back makes by senior Jack Ferree. Junior Shelby Rose gave the advantage back to Christian Academy with a bucket in the paint, but it was short lived.
Lanesville answered with a 4-0 swing that began with a second-chance shot by senior Jason Harmon and ended with Harmon stealing an errant Warriors’ pass, dishing it off to teammate Joe Ferree who laid it in for a 61-58 Lanesville lead with 50 seconds remaining.
Christian Academy’s Aaron Eldridge drained a 3 from the left corner just out of a timeout huddle, tying the game at 61 apiece with 15 seconds to go.
Both teams came up empty on their next trips down the floor, but Warriors’ 6-foot-10 center Connor Chalfant was tagged with his fifth foul contesting an inside shot attempt by Harmon with two seconds to go. Harmon hit both the ensuing free throws to give the game its final score.
Warriors’ junior James Martin got off a half-court shot that was less than two feet off the mark.
CLASS A BORDEN SECTIONAL
ROCK CREEK ACADEMY 67, BORDEN 48
Borden 14 9 10 15—48
Rock Creek 7 17 19 24—67
Borden (16-5): Garrett Vick 14, Brian McGee 9, Josh Vollstedt 9, Zack Gillam 9, Kyle Kruer 3, Cody Craddock 2, Caleb Hart 2.
Rock Creek ((15-9): Devin Burt 22, Will Brown 16, Gedeon Nzombi 14, Ronald Karenzi 11, Jeremiah Wilkinson 2, Blake Joseph 1, Tanner Gerth 1.
3-point field goals: Borden 2 (Vollstedt, Kruer); Rock Creek (Brown 2).
Rebounds: Borden 41 (Vick 15); Rock Creek 36 (Nzombi 12).
Turnovers: Borden 8, Rock Creek 11.
LANESVILLE 63, CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 61
Lanesville 7 9 16 31—63
Christian Academy 15 13 16 17—61
Lanesville (14-8): Jason Harmon 20, Jack Ferree 20, Joe Ferree 18, Ryan Fulkerson 4, Micah Lane 1.
Christian Academy (15-5): Shelby Rose 17, Nic Reed 14, Aaron Eldridge 13, Connor Chalfant 8, James Martin 7, Chris Boaz 2.
3-point field goals: Lanesville 6 (Joe Ferree 3, Jack Ferree 2, Harmon) ; Christian Academy 2 (Eldridge, Martin).
Rebounds: Lanesville 30 (Harmon 10); Christian Academy (Reed 10).
Turnovers: Lanesville 11, Christian Academy 13.