The game-winning shot came just moments after Hillcrest senior Roy Hardy capped a furious Hillcrest rally with a game-tying 3-pointer from the head of the key with 10 seconds remaining.
Hillcrest trailed by as many as eight points in the third quarter as turnovers, careless play and the slow, methodical pace played by Borgia plagued the Hornets.
"It is hard for them to go out like they did," Hillcrest head coach John Schaefer said. "If we played a good game, and you lose ... but, we just didn't. We didn't play well. I want to say it was because of Borgia, but I feel like we forced our own turnovers. We shot ourselves in the foot."
Hillcrest (22-6) trailed by six (41-35) with 4:07 remaining in the game when senior guard Austin Petry hit a 3-pointer, cutting the Knights lead to three. The Hornets followed Petry's 3 by turning up full court pressure and forced four straight Borgia turnovers. Hillcrest even took a brief one-point lead after a three-point play by senior Jonah Hill with 3:04 remaining.
But Hillcrest couldn't capitalize on chances to expand the lead as they committed a turnover, then missed a lay-up on a runout after a steal on consecutive possessions.
Borgia finally ended its scoring drought with 1:28 remaining as senior Casey Kuchem scored and the Knights took a 43-42 lead.
However, Borgia could't pull away either as the Knights went cold at the free throw line. The Knights twice split a pair of free throws, then missed two free throws with 23 seconds remaining that would have essentially iced the game, turning a three-point lead into a two-possession game.
The misses set up Hardy's game trying 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining.
"We still had a chance," said Hardy. "We were fighting our way back and put them at the free throw line and the kid missed two (free throws) and gave us an opportunity. We tried to make the most of it, but ... it (the loss) is upsetting."
Borgia (20-8) called timeout to set up the final play and Miller found an opening and sunk a heavily contested jumper from straight away near the free throw line.
"We gave ourselves a shot and I thought we were good defensively and had a hand in (Miller's) face," Schaefer said. "We just let him get too deep. But you don't have a choice. If you foul him, he gets too free throws and you lose the game.
"I thought that was about the best defensive effort we could do without fouling."
The loss ends the high school careers of eight Hillcrest seniors, while Borgia advances to play Republic (27-4) at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Drury University in Springfield.
"We hurt ourselves," said Hardy. "We came out in slow motion and weren't doing what we've been doing all year which is attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. We hardly shot any free throws in this game. We are still upset and we feel like we should still be playing. Borgia beat a real good basketball team today and congratulations to them."
Hillcrest went to the line 10 times and made six. The Hornets converted nine 3-pointers, including four by sophomore guard Brady Petry. But Borgia largely made the game a possession-by-possession battle and Hillcrest was done in by untimely turnovers.
"I was kind of dumbfounded by the way we played," said Schaefer. "We made a lot of mistakes, and I don't feel like Borgia forced them — we tried to do too much, played tight and never got into a rhythm the entire basketball game. We were fortuntante that Brady Petry shot the ball well and gave us a chance to win the basketball game, but we missed a lay-up here and there to win a game and that is how it goes this time of year."
Brady Petry finished with 12 points, all on 3-pointers, to lead Hillcrest. The Hornets also got 10 points from junior guard Juwan Johnson and nine from Hardy, on three 3-pointers.
Missouri Class 4 sectional
BORGIA 47, HILLCREST 45
at Missouri S&T, Rolla
Borgia 10 9 18 10 — 47
Hillcrest 12 4 16 13 — 45
Borgia (20-8) — Zachary Schweissbuth 3, Jordan Miller 14, Casey Kuchem 16, Joseph Helfrich 6, Tyler Breckenkamo 2, John Baumstark 6.
Hillcrest (22-6) — Thomas Whittaker 3, Austin Petry 6, Juwan Johnson 10, Roy Hardy 9, Brady Petry 12, Jonah Hill 5.