By GREG MENGELT
Jalen McCoy scored 34 of Borden’s 95 points in last Saturday’s dual victories that gave the Braves their second regional title in school history.
McCoy scored team-highs of 17 points in wins over Orleans and Barr-Reeve at the Class A Loogootee Regional. That included eight first-quarter points in the 52-51 win over Orleans and four 3-pointers in the third quarter of the Braves’ 43-42 triumph over Barr-Reeve in the championship game.
“When he plays with that much confidence, everybody else feeds off of him,” Borden coach Doc Nash said.
“Jalen played like a senior leader,” Braves’ junior Garrett Vick said. “We really needed him to step up and he stepped up. He knocked down a ton of big shots.”
Early in the third quarter, Nash got on McCoy for passing up shots. His response was a 3-point shot from a good 6 feet behind the arc. It found nothing but net.
“That kind of typified his day,” Nash said. “He passed up a shot and I kind of got on him and [the 3-pointer] was a statement he made. It was a big, big shot for us. It was his game.”
“He has a lot of guts,” Borden senior guard Billy Kirchgessner said of McCoy. “He’s one of the best players we have and I’m proud of him.”
On Tuesday’s Borden media day, McCoy answered questions as part of the News and Tribune’s “On the Spot” series.
• QUESTION: You had a good first quarter with eight points against Orleans. Did you think maybe last Saturday was going to be your day early on?
• McCOY: “Yeah. The first game I got started. I hit a 3 and a couple shots inside the paint, but then my shot wasn’t falling the rest of the first half. At the start, I was aggressive but not necessarily was in the zone.”
• Q: You were, I think, 1-of-8 from the field in the second quarter. Did that make you hesitate to shoot at all in the second half?
• McCOY: “Ah, no. Coach always says he’ll take me out of the game if I don’t shoot. [Missing shots] doesn’t affect me. I know I need to score for us. That’s my role on the team. If I’m missing, I’m missing. But I still have to shoot.”
• Q: Orleans knocked you off last year in the regional. You guys had said before the game that beating Orleans was just another step toward your goal of winning a state championship. Now that you’ve won, honestly, how rewarding was it getting them back?
• McCOY: “It felt good. But it felt even better that we advanced in the tournament and having a chance to play for a regional championship and cutting down some more nets.”
• Q: You knew how good Barr-Reeve was. Everyone was picking them. I may have even picked them to win the regional. Going into the game, was it intimidating at all playing a top-three team?
• McCOY: “No. Coach broke them down and told us what we needed to do to win. We saw spots that we could isolate and we did and we came out successful. We knew we could win, but we also knew we were the underdogs going in.”
• Q: I heard Coach Nash got on you about not shooting in the championship game. Was your 30-foot shot a response to him?
• McCOY: “He got on me. For some reason, my mind said step back even more and shoot it. It worked. After I made it, I looked at him and pointed at him. Of course, we were both excited.”
• Q: I’m sure in a lifetime of basketball you’ve had a quarter as good as your third quarter against Barr-Reeve. But what was it like to do it in that situation?
• McCOY: “I felt like everything I shot was going in. To be in a regional championship and feel like that, it just escalates the feeling by a thousand times. Helping my team win, it was just awesome.”
• Q: Not many Indiana high school basketball players get to experience winning a regional championship. What were you feeling after you accomplished it?
• McCOY: “It was amazing. It’s the best feeling that’s ever happened to me. Like you said, not many people get to experience ... even a sectional championship, not to mention a regional championship. So it was just awesome.”
• Q: What do you know about University and what to expect from them?
• McCOY: “They’re super athletic. They have a kid that’s a really good shooter. Their guards are quick and they have a [6-foot-9] center who’s their leading scorer and rebounder for them. They’re a dangerous team despite what their record says.”
• Q: Were you at Borden’s Class A semistate game in 2008 at Southport?
• McCOY: “Yeah, I was.”
• Q: What stands out in your memory about that day?
• McCOY: “It was a packed house. Standing room only. If it’s anything like that Saturday, it will be amazing to play at. There’s supposed to be a huge crowd here. It would be fun to win one for our community.”
• Q: What would it mean to the Braves to go to a state championship game?
• McCOY: “It would mean everything. It would not only mean everything to us, but to our community. Especially Coach Nash. Obviously winning the semistate and having a chance to play for a state championship, that’s something you just never expect to be there. It would be a dream.”
• Q: Did you guys expect to get to this point?
• McCOY: “We knew we had a shot. In the tournament, you have to get lucky and the ball has to fall your way sometimes and it has for us so far. Two more games, that’s all it takes.”
• Q: Coming into the season, I wrote that you were the most interesting team. Obviously, with four starters back, you were going to be good. But losing Brandon Beam, who always had the ball in his hands, was a big loss. Did you think you could be better — and advance farther — even without him?
• McCOY: “We did. We knew we could be really good. People didn’t expect us to have a season like this. We knew Brandon was our best player last year. We knew the seniors — Garrett also — had to step up. Our balance is what helps us. So we figured we could have a good season.”
• Q: So, here’s your chance to make a prediction for Saturday.
• McCOY: “No prediction. If we play like we’re supposed to — like Coach Nash prepares us to — who knows what will happen? It will be a close game.”