In a game that never was in doubt, Pacific opened the Owensville Boys Basketball Tournament Wednesday with a win over Steelville.
The defending tournament champion and top-seeded Indians jumped to a 16-0 lead with just over three minutes elapsed in the game and cruised to a 69-13 victory over the eighth-seeded Cardinals.
It’s the fewest points allowed in a single game in the 24 years of the Owensville Tournament.
“I was a little curious how we would respond after the layoff from the holiday break, but we set the tempo right away with a fast start,” said Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer.
Other first-round scores were Hermann defeating Salem 53-49, Sullivan topping Owensville 54-37 and Cuba knocking off Linn, 62-49.
Pacific (7-4) played fourth-seeded Hermann (5-6) in the championship semifinals Friday night. The other championship semifinal was second-seeded Sullivan (8-3) against third-seeded Cuba (9-1). The tournament concludes Saturday.
“Hermann has been scoring some points this season. They have kids who can shoot the ball,” VanLeer said. “With the three other teams in the semifinals, we know we have to be ready to play in our next two games. We have to get better every day.”
Pacific’s pressure defense, both in the full court and half court, was too much for Steelville to overcome.
The Indians created turnovers with their defense, which lead to transition baskets. They also had a solid shooting night.
VanLeer took the full court press off even before the first quarter ended.
“We had 20 steals as a team,” VanLeer said. “We haven’t pressed much this season, but watching them on film, we thought we could get after them and force some turnovers, which we did.”
Doing much of the damage were Cullen VanLeer and Zeth Boyer, who finished with 19 points and 16 points, respectively.
Boyer, who added three steals and two assists, was 7-9 shooting from the field.
VanLeer, the MVP of last year’s Owensville Tournament, added seven assists and four steals. He scored the Indians’ first 11 points of the game, which included three three-pointers.
“Cullen had a solid game. He got us going early in the game,” VanLeer said. “Zeth also had a nice game.”
Brendan Jett-Kell and Stephen Watson both added eight points.
Noah Boyer pitched in with five points. Tanner Brown and Brandon Colter both netted four points.
Neil DeBold and Zach Kraus both scored two points. Kraus added five assists and three steals. Logan Armstrong had one point. Jeffrey Hinkle also played.
“Everybody stepped up and did nice things,” VanLeer said. “We had only two turnovers. We’ve had only three games this season with over 10 turnovers.”
Devin Diaz led Steelville (0-12) with four points.
The Indians were 7-10 from the free-throw line. The Cardinals were 1-6.
Pacific held a 24-2 lead after the first quarter and increased the advantage to 31-2 two minutes into the second quarter.
The score at halftime was 42-6.
The Indians outscored Steelville in the second half, 27-7.
The Cardinals did not score more than four points in any quarter.
Pacific led 56-10 after three quarters. The entire fourth period was played with a running clock.