St. James was shooting for its 20th straight win to start the girls basketball season.
Pacific had other ideas.
The Lady Indians (15-3, 2-1) instead extended their own winning streak to 12 games, knocking St. James from the ranks of the unbeaten, with a 67-58 Four Rivers Conference victory Thursday at St. James High School.
“It was a great night. I’m proud of our team. It’s the first time we’ve beaten St. James on the varsity level in my four years as head coach,” said Pacific Head Coach Josh Spuhl. “The girls were excited, but we know we can still get better. We have a tough stretch coming up. The Four Rivers Conference is no joke. From top to bottom, I think it’s the best conference in the state.”
Pacific’s last three wins have come against Sullivan, St. Charles and St. James, three teams with a combined record of 53-5.
“We’ve played against a good schedule and have earned every win,” Spuhl said. “The games we lost we’d like to have back, but we learned from them.”
Lizzy Almo led three Lady Indians in double figures against St. James with 16 points.
Kya Hill finished the game with 15 points. She was 7-8 from the free-throw line.
Ashley Hill added 12 points. She was 6-7 from the foul line.
Meagan Wakefield pitched in with eight points.
Abby Spuhl and Ellen Rogers both netted six points.
Hunter Kelemen scored three points. Karlie King had one point.
“Lizzy, Kya and Ashley all played well. Lizzy and Abby both were sick. Meagan stepped in and played great. She was exceptional,” Spuhl said. “Abby hit a couple of three-pointers. We defended them pretty well.”
St. James (19-1, 2-1) was led by MJ Buschmann, who scored 18 points.
Ashlee Marlatt finished the game with 14 points. Alexis Uffman added 10 points.
Hannah Perona and Shauna Rinehart both scored six points. Corinne Anselm and Alison McDowell both had two points.
Pacific held a 13-9 lead after one quarter.
“I think we surprised them right off the bat. We had a couple of and-ones and led 7-2 pretty quick,” Spuhl said. “We had a 10- or 12-point lead at one point in the first quarter. St. James had never been down by more than 10 points all season.”
The Lady Tigers outscored Pacific 23-17 in the second quarter to take a 32-30 halftime advantage.
“They went on a run in the second quarter. We had three starters out of the game in foul trouble,” Spuhl said. “I was happy to be down by only two points at halftime with three starters missing much of the second quarter.”
Pacific outscored St. James 37-26 in the second half, including 16-9 in the third quarter, to lead 46-41 heading into the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter favored the Lady Indians, 21-17. They were able to seal the win with free throws down the stretch.
“We just took care of business in the second half. Holding on to a lead in the last few minutes is something we work a lot on. If we’re ahead in the last three or four minutes of the game, I like our chances,” Spuhl said. “Lizzy and Ashley took care of the ball and got to the free-throw line. Kya made some big free throws, too.”
Pacific was 23-33 from the free-throw line. St. James was 9-20.
Defense continues to be a key factor for Pacific.
St. James was the first team to score 50 or more points against the Lady Indians during their current 12-game winning streak.
Things don’t get much easier next week for Pacific with games Monday at home against Owensville and Thursday at Sullivan.
The Lady Indians also have Hermann and St. Clair remaining on their FRC schedule.
“With these wins we’ve had, our underdog status is going to start to go away,” Spuhl said. “We have to get ready for a tough week, starting with Owensville. Teams are going to be ready for us.”