The Borden boys’ basketball team went ice cold in the third quarter, fell behind and then rallied past University 47-44 Saturday in the Class A Seymour Semistate.
Borden (23-3) will play for the school’s first state title Saturday against Triton (20-5) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis at 10:30 a.m.
Triton advanced with a 40-32 win over Lafayette Central Catholic.
The Braves, who haven’t lost since a 34-31 setback to Springs Valley on Feb. 9, won despite erratic shooting from everywhere on the floor. They hit just 12 of 39 shots for 30.7 percent, and connected on only 19 of 34 free throws for 55.8 percent.
“We didn’t hit free throws, but we made plays,” Borden coach Doc Nash said. “They’re winners. These kids are winners.
“We’ve got 32 minutes of basketball left for a state championship,” said Nash, who is in his seventh season at Borden. “That was our goal at the beginning of the season — play for a state championship.”
In fact, Borden — with thousands of fans from Borden and just as many Jeffersonville fans cheering for them — made most of the plays in the closing minutes of the game.
While they weren’t hitting many shots, the Braves tightened their defense in the fourth quarter.
University (15-12) scored just three points in the final 5:07.
When the Trailblazers’ 6-foot-8 center Dominic Dixon converted a putback with 5:07 left, the Braves trailed 41-37.
Then Jalen McCoy, who led the Braves with 17 points, drilled a 3-pointer with 4:08 left, cutting the deficit to 41-40.
After University’s Robbie Johnson hit 1 of 2 free throws, Borden’s Garrett Vick grabbed a rebound at the other end of the floor and converted a putback of his own, tying the score at 42-all with 3:35. He was fouled but missed the free throw.
After the Braves forced a five-second violation, Vick was fouled and made two free throws with 3:05 left, and Borden led 44-42.
University’s Johnson then hit a 10-footer to tie it at 44-all and Borden’s Michael Lynch — who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds — hit a shot in the lane with 1:33 left to put the Braves up 46-44.
On the next Trailblazers’ possession, Borden’s McCoy then came up with a steal off a deflection and Billy Kirchgessner hit 1 of 2 free throws with 35.2 seconds remaining.
The Braves left the door open by missing their last five free throws. Borden, though, kept making stops and needed one more on University’s last possession — and McCoy stole the ball from Sam Forkin.
“Jalen (McCoy) — he’s just a tough kid,” Nash said.
“I really thought that the three (Borden’s first made shot of the second half) really got us going,” he said. “But we’ve been in close games before. We had to come back against Barr-Reeve and Orleans (in the regional).”
McCoy hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
“We struggle sometimes on the offensive end, but we always play good defense,” McCoy said.
“I guess we need to work on our free throws,” Nash said with a smile in the post-game celebration. “But we usually shoot it 70 percent.”
Borden led the entire first half while scoring the first 11 points of the game. The Braves led 26-21 at the half before missing 13 shots in the third quarter.
“We had good looks,” Nash said. “They just weren’t going in.”
Johnson, just a sophomore, paced University with 14 points.
Kirchgessner and Vick added nine points apiece for Borden.