The pace was frantic, out of Borden’s control. The defending Class A state champions were in a hurry and getting nowhere.
Trailing by nine points isn’t the ideal time to spread an offense and play patiently, but that was the only way Borden coach Doc Nash could slow Silver Creek down to his team’s pace. And it worked, with the Braves grinding down the host Dragons for a 52-45 victory on Saturday night.
Garrett Vick, one of the lone holdovers from the championship team, scored 16 points and had eight rebounds as Class A No. 3 Borden (9-1) methodically erased the early deficit and imposed its will. The Braves didn’t score for the first 3½ minutes, then steadily established their style.
The Dragons (6-3) aided their own demise, abandoning the game plan to jack 25 3-pointers. They made only one until the last one they fired went down in the closing seconds. By then the damage had been done.
Turnovers were Borden’s problem. The Braves, struggling with the longer, athletic Dragons, had eight in the first quarter, and they trailed 13-4 after Silver Creek’s Shae Durham hit a jumper near the end of the period.
From that point, Borden relied on its senior experience and its deliberate approach.
“We just got our kids calmed down,” Nash said. “We didn’t want to hold the ball, but it was the only way to get some type of our flow going. They had us so sped up. It was the only way to slow them down, and it worked.”
The Braves took control with a 12-2 close to the first half. Caleb Hart’s corner 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Borden a 26-22 lead and the momentum to maintain its hold. When the Dragons’ offense crumbled into carpet bombing, hoping to hit something, the Braves had them.
“We can guard you,” Nash said. “There’s a lot of effort that goes into that. It’s a joy when it works out that way. We can frustrate people, and we can also look really bad at times.”
Silver Creek’s shooting woes were widespread. The Dragons were 13 of 51 overall.
“We started missing a few shots and started rushing a few and got away from what we wanted to do,” coach Brandon Hoffman said. “Every game we try to get it inside, pound it inside, drive it inside. We couldn’t do that.
“And even the good shots, we missed. You’re not going to make a good team like Borden, no matter how hard you play or how good the defense you play, lose shooting like that.”
Gabe Bauer had 12 points and Jake Steele added 10 for Silver Creek.
Vick had plenty of help from Brian McGee (11 points) and Cody Craddock. But Vick was the central figure. Nash asked a lot from the veteran, and he delivered, even adding ball-handling chores against Silver Creek’s constant press to his workload.
“He did what he’s supposed to do tonight,” Nash said. “That’s what we expect. He controlled the ball in the backcourt. You’re not going to take the ball away. He might run you over or do something dumb, but you won’t take the ball.”
Silver Creek scratched within 38-35 in the fourth quarter, but Vick hit seven free throws while Craddock and Josh Vollstedt broke free for layups against the press. Zack Gilliam added eight points before fouling out.