WOODSTOCK – With about three minutes left in the first quarter of Marengo's Kishwaukee River Conference game against Woodstock on Friday, Indians senior point guard Blaine Borhart assessed the defense, then shouted the word "Michigan" to his teammates at the top of the key.
It was the play he felt would work best – one he called without being prompted by his coach, Nate Wright, showing just how much trust Wright has in him to run the offense. It led to a basket.
Later, in the fourth quarter, Woodstock senior guard Tyler Peake had what looked like an easy layup. But Borhart sprinted into the lane from near the foul line and swatted the ball away at the last second.
On the ensuing possession, Borhart cut to the rim and received a gorgeous feed from Alexander Schirmer for two points.
It was that kind of night for Borhart, who scored 16 points and added 11 rebounds, as the Indians coasted to a 62-40 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams. Senior teammate Matt Fischer also scored 16 points.
"This team has so much experience, and Blaine is one of eight seniors on our roster," Wright said. "He affects the game in every way. He's a leader. He has tremendous court vision. He can score inside or outside. And as you saw tonight, he's a tremendous rebounder."
Although the Indians (15-10, 6-6 KRC) were happy to pick up their second victory this season against Woodstock, which they play again in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs Monday, they have bigger goals – especially after losing to Bloomington in a supersectional last season, one victory shy of going downstate.
"We have to take it one game at a time, and by no means are we overlooking anybody," Borhart said. "The whole offseason and summer training camps and weightlifting ... those were to prepare us for one more run. That's our goal. To get to another supersectional, and take one more shot at state."
Marengo also got Jake LaSota (broken wrist) and Aiden Smith (ankle sprain) back from injury Friday, meaning they'll be at full strength when the postseason begins. And with an experienced big man in the lane in 6-foot-7 center Alejandro Rodriguez, Marengo's combination of guard and post play could make it a serious threat as a No. 5 seed.
Rodriguez (nine points, six rebounds, three blocks) had only two points and a rebound in the first half while getting into foul trouble, But he came out after halftime a man on a mission, scoring seven points and adding three rebounds and two blocks in the first two-plus minutes of the third quarter.
"I didn't want to let my teammates down, so I tried to step up and elevate my game," Rodriguez said."This team is so close, so when we're all on the same page, we feel like we can compete with anybody."
Woodstock (7-21, 3-9) hasn't had the best season on paper, but before Friday's loss, it beat Woodstock North and lost to state-ranked Burlington Central in overtime in its previous two games. Evan Bridges (12 points) and Michael Gardner (nine points) led the Streaks.
"When we're at our best, we've shown we can play with anyone in our conference," Woodstock coach Al Baker said. "We've really gained a lot of momentum near the end of the season, and we think we can win this regional. We really do. We had Burlington beat. We led them by two with 2.1 seconds to go, and they took us to OT on a wild full-court play, then beat us. That game gave us a ton of confidence."
Friday was senior night for the Blue Streaks, and at halftime, they inducted four former students, (Brennae Benda, Jason Crawford, Jeff Curran and Jenny Schwichow) into the school's athletic Hall of Fame.
"It was a really special night for a lot of people here this evening, including our seniors, who have matured so much since they were freshmen," Baker said. "This group of seniors has given 100 percent all the time toward everything they've done. I'm extremely proud of them all. I never have to worry about effort being an issue with this group."
STAR OF THE GAME
Marengo, sr., G
Borhart notched a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds), made five of his final six shots, and went 5 for 5 from the foul line.
33: The combined number of 3-point shots taken by both teams Friday: 17 by the Indians, 16 by the Blue Streaks.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Marengo and Woodstock have a rematch at 7:30 p.m. Monday in a Class 3A first-round regional game at Marengo.
Marengo 62, Woodstock 40
Marengo 20 16 13 13 – 62
Woodstock 10 16 6 8 – 40
Borhart 5 5-5 16, Fischer 6 1-2 16, Rodriguez 4 1-1 9, Smith 3 0-0 7, Wascher 1 2-2 4, Bertrand 2 0-0 4, Schirmer 1 1-2 3, Kirchner 1 0-0 2, LaSota 0 1-4 1, Shambo 0 0-0 0, Correa 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 11-16 62.
Bridges 4 0-0 12, Gardner 2 5-6 9, Anderson 2 0-1 6, Grisolia 1 2-2 4, Shinherr 1 0-0 3, Zanck 1 0-0 2, Gippert 1 0-0 2, Adams 1 0-0 2, Peake 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 7-9 40.
3-point field goals: Woodstock 7 (Bridges 4, Anderson 2, Shinherr), Marengo 5 (Fischer 3, Borhart, Smith).
Total team fouls: Woodstock 14, Marengo 12.
Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.