By GREG MENGELT
For the second straight season, the First Harrison Bank Washington County Tournament was won by a team from Clark County.
Borden shot 58 percent from the floor and never trailed in Saturday’s 55-36 victory over West Washington in the tournament championship at Pekin.
“It’s nice to win it two years in a row,” Borden senior Billy Kirchgessner said. “There’s three other really good teams in it. It’s a privilege to play against them and win.”
“This is a good group of kids that’s deserving of it,” Borden coach Doc Nash said of the program’s first back-to-back Washington Count titles in school history. “We knew WW was going to come in and make it an ugly game, and that’s what happened. We fought hard and come out with a win.”
The Class A No. 6 Braves are also 7-0 for the second straight season. Borden, which has won 22 of its last 25 games over the past two seasons, began 11-0 a year ago before suffering its only regular season loss at Henryville on Jan. 21.
“We could get a little bit better, but I mean, we’re 7-0,” Kirchgessner said. “We can’t complain about that.”
After falling behind 9-0 in the first quarter of its 64-49 semifinal win over the host Musketeers, Borden jumped on top of West Washington 8-0 in the first 3 minutes and 26 seconds on Saturday.
Led by five points from Jalen McCoy, Borden led 17-9 after the opening period.
“We wanted to get off to a better start, obviously,” Nash said. “The kids know that we need to get off to good starts and play hard all the time.”
In the second quarter, McCoy and junior reserve guard Josh Vollstedt helped the Braves push the advantage to 28-12 with 3:24 left.
Two Vollstedt three-pointers sandwiched a Kirchgessner free throw before back-to-back McCoy buckets. After the Senators reeled off seven straight to get within 28-20 with 13.8 seconds left, Vollstedt nailed his third 3 of the period at the halftime buzzer and the Braves led 31-20 at the break.
Vollstedt went 3-for-3 in the second quarter and 4-for-4 in the first half. All four shots came from 3-point range. He finished with 14 points — second only to McCoy’s 16 — going 5-for-5 from the floor.
“Vollstedt picked us up and made shots,” Nash said. “It’s the first game he’s really shot well. That little fart is tough as nails. He’s one of our toughest kids. It doesn’t matter what happens to him, his demeanor never changes. He’s the kind of guard we want in our program.”
“He’s really a spark off the bench,” Kirchgessner said. “Last year, he didn’t get to play varsity much, but this year he’s moved up and he’s made the most of his chance. We’re really glad to have him on our team.”
Josh Ruedinger scored five third quarter points and Borden led 41-30 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Braves then went on a 9-2 run to opening the final stanza to put the game away.
Leading 47-32, Borden took possession with just over five minutes left. After playing “keep away” and holding on to possession for nearly two minutes, McCoy scored on a backdoor cut on a pass from Kirchgessner.
Both Kirchgessner and McCoy were named to the All-Tournament team.
After another missed Senator shot, Borden again ran nearly a full minute off the clock before West Washington was forced to foul Kirchgessner with 1:51 left down 17 points.
“That was awesome. It was awesome,” Nash said of the Braves’ motion offense in the fourth quarter. “We’ve worked on that and we have to continue to get better at it. I thought some of our spacing was off at times, but it’s December.”
“We practice it all the time in practice,” Kirchgessner said. “We had to come out and do it in a game for once, because here lately, we haven’t been playing very well late in games.”
Kirchgessner scored just five points in the championship game, but he led the Braves with four assists and a pair of steals. Ruedinger had nine points and a game-high five boards.
Junior Ty Bolton led West Washington (2-4) with 12 points. Sophomore Evan Woods added 11. Junior Senator 6-foot-5 big man Lane Hoover finished with four points, five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Eastern defeated Salem, 56-38, in Saturday’s consolation game.
WASHINGTON COUNTY ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Billy Kirchgessner, Borden
Jalen McCoy, Borden
Lane Hoover, West Washington
Ty Bolton, West Washington
R.J. Jackson, Eastern
Caleb Couch, Salem