By Craig Vonder Haar
Missourian Sports Writer
Pacific made it four boys basketball victories in a row with a 50-48 win last Friday at Farmington High School.
The Indians (4-2) opened the season with two losses against St. Louis Christian and Carnahan (overtime) at the St. Francis Borgia Thanksgiving Tournament, but have not lost a game since.
“Our defense has been the biggest difference,” said Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer. “We’ve done a good job switching and just playing good, fundamental defense. In the four games we’ve won in a row, no one has scored 50 points. When you hold teams under 50 points, you always have a chance.”
Pacific hasn’t allowed 60 points in any of its six games this season. St. Louis Christian and Carnahan both scored 59.
With the game against Farmington tied 58-58, Pacific’s Cullen VanLeer made two free throws with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Indians the win.
“We played OK. It wasn’t one of our better games,” John VanLeer said. “We didn’t start the game strong. There were a few mental mistakes. We haven’t started games very well this season. We have to figure out how to get going early in games.”
Farmington (0-4) held a 16-11 lead after one quarter. The game was tied 21-21 at halftime and the Indians led 35-29 after three quarters.
“We just started making shots,” VanLeer said. “Defensively, we figured out where their better shooters were and defended better than we did in the first quarter.”
Cullen VanLeer led the way for Pacific with 20 points, four assists and three steals. He scored 15 points in the first half.
“Cullen didn’t look to score much in the first quarter,” VanLeer said. “He got his offense going in the second quarter with 10 points.”
Jeffrey Hinkle added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Indians. All 12 of his points came in the second half.
“Jeffrey was 5-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and 6-9 for the game,” VanLeer said. “He posted up strong in the fourth quarter and had a big three-point play.”
Zeth Boyer finished the game with eight points. Brendan Jett-Kell added six points. Stephen Watson scored two points. Tanner Brown and Noah Boyer both had one point.
“Stephen made some big plays and had a big assist off the bench,” VanLeer said. “It was a total team effort. We made plays when we had to. We just need a couple more players to step up offensively. We’ll keep working. We have a tough schedule coming up.”
VanLeer thanked Pacific fans who made the trip to Farmington.
“We had 72 kids ride a pep bus to Farmington, which was awesome,” VanLeer said. “In my 20 years as a coach, this is the best student section we’ve had. Casey Lowry, our tribe sponsor, rode the bus with the kids. A big thanks to her. Our players were excited to have that support. In a close game like we had, they can make the difference.”
Pacific opens Four Rivers Conference action this week with games Tuesday at Union and Friday at home against New Haven.