One of the most anticipated district tournaments in some time will be contested next week in Pacific.
The Class 4 District 9 girls basketball tournament features two conference champions and a number of in-season tournament winners.
Pacific is the top seed and tournament host. The Lady Indians won Class 4 District 3 last season by beating Lutheran South, 56-34.
Pacific returned to the district this year, replacing Salem.
Borgia, the third seed, is the defending district champion after beating Sullivan for last year’s championship, 57-31.
Host Pacific is the district’s top seed and is ranked 10th in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 4 state poll.
Josh Spuhl’s team is 19-5 entering play midway through the week and the Lady Indians went 4-3 in Four Rivers Conference play.
The Lady Indians are led by senior guard Lizzy Almo (13.0 points per game) and sophomore forward Kya Hill (12.8 points, 7.8 rebounds per game).
Junior guard Ashley Hill (8.3 points per game) is another playmaker to watch, averaging 4.6 assists and two steals per game.
Pacific has a number of other players, including senior Abby Spuhl (5.9 points per game), sophomore Ellen Rogers (4.9 points per game), sophomore Meagan Wakefield (4.6 points per game) and sophomore Hunter Kelemen (4.2 points per game) who can step up at any given time.
Pacific has experience and won two in-season tournaments this season, taking the Seckman and Lindbergh titles. Pacific will have the extra benefit of playing at home.
Second-seeded Sullivan shared the Four Rivers Conference title with a 20-3 overall and 6-1 league record. Jason Merkel’s Lady Eagles have been ranked within the state much of the season (currently in the receiving votes section of the MBCA state poll) and have beaten everyone in the district with the exception of Pacific. The Lady Indians have beaten Sullivan twice.
Sullivan can look to a trio of top scorers with the Lucas twins contributing 22.1 points per game. Junior Taylor Lucas averages 12.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Junior Aley Lucas averages 10 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Junior Sierra Pryor has been named MVP of the Sullivan Tournament and averages 10.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
Senior Jessica Heinle (6.0 points per game), senior Demi Reed (5.3 points per game), sophomore Kaitlynn Hill (5.0 points per game), sophomore Megan Brandt (3.9 points per game) and junior Tessa Johanning (2.3 points per game) are role players who could explode at any time.
Third-seeded Borgia has not won an in-season tournament, but the Lady Knights (18-6, 7-1) did win the Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division title in its first year in the league.
Stacia Parsell’s team features a good outside-inside scoring combo of junior guard Janie Arand (15.8 points per game) and senior Katie Lindemann (13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds per game).
The Lady Knights aren’t deep, but make the most of their squad. Not many players in the district are quicker than junior Emily Grahl (7.3 points, 4.8 assists, 2.9 steals per game). Sophomores Molly Arand (5.3 points per game) and Cassandra Halsted (4.0 points, 4.3 rebounds per game) are starters capable of scoring well above their averages.
Union, seeded fourth, is starting to heal up after a rough stretch. The Lady ’Cats of Grant Young went 16-8 during the regular season and 4-3 in the Four Rivers Conference.
Union likes to move the ball inside to senior Rachael Bassett (12.2 points, 9.1 rebounds per game) and she’s healthy again after recovering from a back injury.
Sophomore Bethany Coons has had some big games recently and averages 11.8 points per game for the season.
Seniors Whitney Vitt (9.1 points per game) and Alyssa Coons (8.6 points per game) are outside scoring threats.
Senior Abbie Brack (4.8 points per game) plays a support role while getting some of the tougher defensive assignments.
Fifth-seeded Owensville is looking to shock the district. Dwayne Clingman’s team already has a win in Pacific over the top-seeded Lady Indians.
The Dutchgirls (12-12, 1-6) likely will go as far as freshman Hailey Diestelkamp carries them. She averages 15.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 2.7 steals and 2.3 blocked shots per game.
Diestelkamp has had some huge games this season and will be the focus of the Owensville attack.
Others who can help include junior Miranda Robertson (7.0 points per game), sophomore Emily Ellis (5.1 points per game), freshman Bailey Nelson (4.5 points per game) and junior Taylor Payne (4.4 points, 5.0 rebounds per game).
Seeded sixth is St. Clair, but the Lady Bulldogs (10-13, 1-6) are no pushover. Jena Carroll’s team opened the season by winning the Clayton Round Robin.
Much of the focus of St. Clair’s attack centers on junior Karissa Hoffman (10.8 points, 6.1 rebounds per game), sophomore Allison Hinson (10.1 points, 2.7 steal, 2.3 assists per game) and junior Sam Deason (8.1 points, 4.3 rebounds per game).
St. Clair opens the tournament against Borgia, a team it lost to Jan. 2, 60-33.