Only a sophomore in her first full season on the varsity, Borgia’s Megan Jensen played like a seasoned veteran Thursday night.
Jensen netted 31 points and added nine rebounds, three blocked shots, one assist and one steal as top-seeded Borgia (24-2) moved past fourth-seeded Pacific (14-13) in the Class 4 District 9 semifinals at Borgia, 67-41.
“We knew that Pacific was going to have to run some sort of offense to take Janie (Arand) out of the game. We worked on that all week. It’s nice that Megan could step up and more than fill that.”
Pacific Head Coach Josh Spuhl said Jensen was the difference.
“We let Jensen do whatever she wanted,” Spuhl said. “We didn’t guard on the inside and we didn’t want to block out. We couldn’t stop her. She’s a big, strong kid and nobody stepped up.”
Borgia will play second-seeded Sullivan (22-4) Saturday at 6 p.m. for the championship.
“We’re excited to play for a district championship on Saturday,” Parsell said. “It’s what we’ve talked about all season long. We’ve met these challenges, won a couple of tournaments and have a long winning streak at this point. We know it’s going to be a tough game on Saturday.”
It will be the second meeting of the season between the teams. Borgia defeated the Lady Eagles in the championship game of the Peoples Bank Holiday Classic in Sullivan Dec. 20, 48-31.
“It’s going to be a hard matchup,” Parsell said. “We’ve got to take care of what we’ve been doing. We feel we’ve improved throughout the season, but they have, too.”
Jensen proved to be a huge difference in the game for Borgia. She scored 11 of the team’s 16 points in the first quarter and had 21 of the 34 points scored in the first half.
“Having 21 points in the first half is a monster half for anyone,” Parsell said. “That means they’re going to have to make an adjustment. That means it leaves Molly Arand and Janie to get some shots off.”
Spuhl feels Jensen has a bright future.
“She’s going to be a good kid to watch over the next couple of years,” Spuhl said.
After Jensen, Borgia got 12 points, one assist, one rebound and one steal from Janie Arand, a senior. She sat out much of the first half after picking up two fouls in the first quarter.
“We had Janie on the bench with two fouls in the first quarter,” Parsell said. “It was nice to see the rest of the team respond in such a positive way that we actually went into the half with a double-digit lead. It was a great thing knowing we would get her back on the court in the third quarter.”
Foul trouble made Parsell have to work around some issues in during the first half. Arand, senior Emily Grahl and sophomore Kaylee Heggemann all had two fouls fairly early in the contest.
“Emily and Kaylee played smart enough to not pick up their third fouls in the first half,” Parsell said.
“We felt pretty good when they had to take Janie out,” Spuhl said.
Heggemann ended the game with six points, six rebounds and one steal. Grahl posted five points with nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals.
Junior Molly Arand also scored six points with three steals, two rebounds and an assist.
Junior Cassandra Halsted added four points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“Cassandra did a great job tonight, too, finding Megan when she needed to,” Parsell said.
Junior Josie Krawitz scored two points and sophomore Allison Stapel added one point.
Pacific was paced by senior Kya Hill, who scored 11 points.
Senior Ashley Hill ended with 10 points.
Junior Meagan Wakefield hit a trio of three-point baskets for her nine points.
Ending with two points apiece were senior Hunter Kelemen and freshman Devon Fleming, Kyndra Morgan.
Pacific graduates five players, Kya Hill, Ashley Hill, Kelemen, Katy Brown and Amber Zurliene. All five seniors played in the game.
“Everybody goes hard,” Spuhl said. “We just make too many mistakes. I’m going to miss this group of seniors. They’re a very close group. I’ve been working with them since before middle school, so it’s definitely a tough group to lose.”
Borgia took the lead 43 seconds into the game, getting a basket from Jensen. She was fouled and converted on the three-point play.
Pacific took the lead when Kya Hill converted a three-point play with 3:28 to go in the half, 7-5. However, Borgia went on an 11-point run to end the quarter with a 16-7 lead, and then continued the run with the first six points of the second quarter.
Borgia led 34-19 at the intermission and 56-28 after three quarters.