Two years ago, an impressive summer had Blaine Borhart poised to contribute at the varsity level a year ahead of schedule.
Then came a setback for Marengo’s then-sophomore: an injury on the football field.
“I hyperextended my knee and chipped all three bones in my leg near my knee,” Borhart said.
Borhart hadn’t played football before sophomore year and hasn’t played it since. He missed the beginning of the basketball season and said he didn’t feel comfortable with the varsity game until January or February last year.
Regardless, the Indians’ point guard is comfortable now.
“Throughout the course of this year, he’s gone from a first-year starting point guard to a kid who has really commanded the floor,” Marengo coach Nate Wright said. “He’s started to knock down some shots, has started to create his own shots.”
At halftime of Marengo’s regional championship victory over Richmond-Burton on Friday, it was the junior Borhart with a team-leading nine points at halftime, not leading scorer Mike Volkening. Borhart finished the game with 16 points.
He will run the point Wednesday in the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Sectional semifinals when Marengo takes on Glenbard South.
“We think it’s a winnable sectional,” Borhart said. “We know what we’ve got to do, and we’re excited for the opportunity to go out and get to a sectional title game.”
Despite the injury as a sophomore, by the end of the season Borhart was Wright’s first or second option off the bench. Since then, he has continued to develop his vision on the court.
“[He understands] the time and score and situation,” Wright said. “Also just commanding the offense. He knows we want to look for Mike. He knows the things that we’re looking for off of every offensive set that we run.”
Borhart finished the regular season averaging 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game. He opened the postseason with 14 points against Woodstock before his 16-point performance Friday.
For Marengo (23-7), developing scorers other than Volkening – who averages well more than 20 points a game – has been a key to stringing together its fourth straight 20-win season.
Borhart has become a top target when the defense focuses on Volkening.
“Mike has been great with guiding me and telling me to always keep shooting because that opens up everything,” Borhart said.
Wright likes the way his team’s confidence has grown this season. After losing key seniors off last year’s team, the Indians needed new faces to step up this year.
Wright said his team has been loose in practice this week after the regional win over R-B. A sectional title would be the Indians’ first since 1998. They last reached a sectional final in 2015, when they lost to Rockford Lutheran.
“The greatest part of this run and the potential run that we could have is the great history that’s in Marengo basketball,” Borhart said. “My dad played Marengo basketball. A few other guys, their dads have played Marengo basketball. It really means a lot to not only us, but also our parents and grandparents. Making history for the school would be great.”