Cardinal Ritter beat Borgia to reach tournament final

WASHINGTON, MO. • Cardinal Ritter coach Randy Reed needs to come up with a new nickname for senior forward Xavier Womack.

Knucklehead just doesn't sound right any more.

"Sometimes, I forget the plays," Womack said. "So, he still calls me that — just in practice."

Womack scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds — both team-highs — to help Ritter to a 63-51 semifinal win over Borgia on Friday in the 64th annual Borgia Turkey Tournament.

Ritter (2-0) advanced to face McCluer North in the championship game of the eight-team, four-day affair at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The 6-foot-6 Womack may struggle with sets in practice. But he has been razor-sharp in helping the Lions win two hard-fought games to open the season.

"When he settles in, he can play," Reed said.

The Lions used a pair of outbursts at the start of the game and the beginning of the second half to force the hosts to play catchup in the semifinal contest.

Ritter scored the first 13 points of the night and the initial seven points of the third quarter to take the lead for good.

"That was the difference," Womack said of the two runs. "We came out in the second half, got the momentum again, and did what we were supposed to do."

Womack got the third-quarter blitz started with a nifty spin move that resulted in an easy layup. Eric Brice added a 3-pointer and Malek Davis canned a pair of foul shots for a 31-24 cushion.

Jared Phillips triggered another short burst with a finger roll through the lane that pushed the lead to 42-33.

Borgia (1-1) battled back to within 42-38 on a foul shot by senior Alex Movila early in the fourth quarter.

But the Lions answered with a 12-3 run that helped them regain command 54-41. Davis and Ronald Welch started the spurt before Womack finished it with an emphatic one-handed slam.

The Knights managed one more run, closing to within 54-49 on a driving layup by Gus Kleekamp with just more than two minutes remaining.

Ritter then closed the game by scoring nine of final 11 points.

Phillips added 15 points to the winning attack. Davis had 14 and Brice tallied nine points.

"It was a matter of us overcoming their size and working on the things we're good at," Reed said. "Our athleticism disrupted them a little bit."

The Lions kept Movila, an imposing 6-foot-8 forward, in check most of the night. Movila missed his first five shots and did not hit his first field goal until early in the third quarter. He finished with 11 points after pumping in 42 in a first-round win over Normandy on Wednesday.

"This wasn't a bad loss," Kleekamp said. "We didn't start out well and it took a lot to get back into the game in the first half."

Ritter bolted to a 13-0 lead behind baskets from four different players. Borgia, which didn't score over the first 5:01, battled back to tie 24-24 on a jumper by Sam Piontek in the final minute of the half.

The Lions, who compiled a 24-7 record last season, carry plenty of momentum into the title contest.

"We know what we can do," Womack said. "So far, we've done it well."

By: Steve Overbey on Twitter at @overbey13