Edging Fox Saturday afternoon in Imperial, the Pacific Lady Indians brought hardware back home from the Seckman Jaguar Holiday Invitational Tournament, 58-55.
But it wasn’t the hardware the Lady Indians (6-3) hoped to earn when they started their journey in the event Thursday.
Pacific settled for third place in the event, ending a three-year run of titles and a four-year run of reaching the championship contest.
Lindbergh, which dominated Northwest in the championship game Saturday, stopped Pacific Friday in the semifinals, 42-40.
“These close games are tough on me and tough on the girls,” Pacific Head Coach Josh Spuhl said. “I’m glad we ended up on top in this one.”
Spuhl noted positives for the tournament.
“All 10 girls did important stuff today,” Spuhl said. “That proved to me we can do this throughout the rest of the season. Everybody did something important.”
Going on a eight-point run midway through the final quarter proved to be just what the Lady Indians needed to salvage third place from the tournament.
For the second day in a row, Pacific struggled at crucial times, giving the opponent a chance to take charge.
The game seemed to be out of reach. Pacific led 10-8 after one quarter and used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to lead 30-18 at the intermission.
However, nobody saw Fox’s three-point shooting onslaught of the third quarter.
“It was an interesting game,” Spuhl said. “I felt we were in control in the first half and then in the third quarter they were on fire. That was a difference maker, but we were able to stay in the game and fight back.”
Fox’s freshman, Izzy Farrell, hit three of the shots on the way to her game-leading 19 points. Overall, she hit five three-point baskets to go with four assists and four steals.
Senior Erin Birschbach hit the other two three-point shots. She had three baskets from beyond the arc for the game and added four assists, three rebounds and a steal.
Fox hit five of its eight three-point baskets in the game during the quarter to take a 45-44 advantage into the final eight minutes.
Fox was up 50-48 when Pacific clamped down defensively on the Lady Warriors and used a six-point surge to take the lead for good.
“We adjusted and did a good job,” Spuhl said. “Once we stuck to her (Farrell), that was a big difference. We probably should have switched defenses earlier.”
Senior Ashley Hill hit the first basket. She scored 14 points in the game and went 4-4 from the free-throw line.
Then, Pacific turned to junior Kate Cookson, who scored the next two baskets and hit a pair of free throws with 2:45 to play to give Pacific a 56-50 advantage.
“I’m happy with the way we played today,” Spuhl said. “When they took the lead, we could have shut down. But the girls didn’t do that, we fought back and got up by six and held on.”
Cookson scored 16 points in the game to lead Pacific and was perfect from the stripe at 2-2.
Senior Kya Hill scored Pacific’s first two baskets of the quarter on the way to her 14 for the game. She took a crucial charge by Farrell with 6:16 to play.
Down the stretch, the Lady Indians did everything they could to gift the third-place plaque to Fox, much the same way they helped Lindbergh’s cause the previous day.
After a Pacific free-throw miss (the only one of the game), Birschbach hit a three-point basket with 37.7 seconds to play, cutting the Pacific lead to 56-53.
Pacific then turned the ball over on a five-second call.
Fox used that chance to get to the free-throw line with Birschbach hitting a pair of shots with 20.6 seconds to play.
However, this time, Pacific got the ball into play and the Lady Warriors were forced to foul Ashley Hill. She hit both shots to make it 58-55.
In the closing seconds, Fox tried to set up a tying shot, but the effort missed and Pacific held on for the victory.
Following Pacific’s trio of double-digit scorers were junior Ellen Rogers with seven points, junior Brigid Toney with four points and senior Hunter Kelemen with three points.
Also playing were seniors Katy Brown and Amber Zurliene and juniors Charla Jackson and Meagan Wakefield.
Fox also received 15 points and seven rebounds from senior Selma Fific.
Karli Allen and Jorden Johnson scored two points apiece.
It was a game neither Pacific nor Lindbergh seemed to want to win.
“It was not pretty at all,” Spuhl said. “We had a lot of turnovers. I thought our defense was OK. We missed a lot of free throws and easy shots. It’s really hard to lose by two knowing you only played about 10 percent.”
While Pacific scored first in the game, the Lady Indians chased Lindbergh through much of the event.
Lindbergh led 10-9 after one quarter and 26-23 at the half.
Neither team seemed to take charge in the second half.
Pacific had a number of chances to either tie the score or even take the lead, but couldn’t get the ball to drop through the cylinder.
On the other side, Lindbergh had a lot of chances to move ahead while Pacific got into massive early foul trouble. Lindbergh attempted 32 free throws in the game with 27 of those coming in the second half. The Lady Flyers managed to hit just 15 of those shots, 12 of the chances in the second half.
Lindbergh held a 31-29 advantage after three quarters and did what it needed to do from the free-throw line to hold onto the lead.
The Lady Flyers hit two baskets in the fourth quarter, with senior Sydney Teuscher’s score with 1:01 to play being a huge basket. That gave Lindbergh a 41-38 lead.
Pacific kept helping Lindbergh. Turnovers before the Lady Indians could even get close enough to shoot the ball. Kya Hill, who led all scorers with 16 points, finally scored with 27 seconds to play to cut the gap to one point, 41-40.
“I thought we started to play a little bit better in the fourth quarter,” Spuhl said. “We need to play better as a group and understand the game better in the end.”
Pacific then fouled Lindbergh and the Lady Flyers missed both free throws.
Working for another attempt, Pacific had a shot blocked and had to foul again. This time, Lindbergh’s Linsey Klein (12 points, 10 rebounds, three blocked shots, three steals and one assist) hit one free throw to make it 42-40 with 4.5 seconds to play.
Pacific still managed to get two chances in that stretch. The Lady Indians turned the ball over on a violation with one second to play, but still got a steal and wild shot at the buzzer.
“We had multiple chances throughout the game,” Spuhl said. “We didn’t quit, but it was not the prettiest basketball.”
Pacific’s inability to push forward in the game didn’t just come through turnovers and missed shots. The Lady Indians went just 9-17 from the free-throw line as well, missing golden chances to take charge of the game.
Only two Pacific players hit double digits in scoring with Ashley Hill netting 12 points to go with Kya Hill’s 16.
Also scoring for Pacific were Kelemen (five points), Wakefield (four), Cookson (two) and Brown (one).
Others who played were Jackson, Rogers and Toney.
Spuhl had to reach deep into his depth in the second half with foul trouble. At the end he was without two starters after Cookson fouled out and Rogers was injured early in the third quarter.
Other scorers for Lindbergh were sophomore Kavita Krell with eight points, senior Lindsey Bozdeck with six, Teuscher with five, sophomore Brooke Harmon and freshman Sarah Schraut with four each, senior Katie Thurmond with two and freshman Anna Nickel with one point.