That was the goal for the Pacific Lady Indians Friday at the Seckman Girls Basketball Holiday Classic.
And that’s just what Pacific (7-3) did by beating Lindbergh (5-4) in the title contest, 49-40.
It was Pacific’s third Seckman championship in a row and fifth overall, breaking a tie it held with the host school for the most titles in the event history.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Pacific Head Coach Josh Spuhl. “I was looking at that and happy to be a part of it. This was our third one in a row. It was nice to threepeat as champions of a tournament like this. There are a lot of schools in this tournament that are bigger than us, so we like to come into this tournament and compete to get the win.”
Pacific senior guard Lizzy Almo said it’s a great record for Pacific.
“It’s awesome, especially for Pacific,” Almo said. “It’s such a small school and nobody really knows about us, so it feels really good being able to go this far again.”
Junior forward Kya Hill credited teamwork.
“We worked hard out there,” Hill said. “It’s all our teamwork and everything. We slacked off in the second quarter, but then we regrouped, realizing that we really wanted to win and to show people who Pacific is because we’re a small school. We don’t want people to down us anymore. We want to show them what we have.”
Pacific also defeated Lindbergh for the title in 2010, 2004 and 2003. Pacific’s title in 2011 came over Northwest.
“It’s my third time as a champion,” Almo said. “It’s my senior year, too. It feels pretty good. For the past three years, we’ve beaten Lindbergh in the championship.”
Three Pacific players left with additional accolades. Almo and juniors Kya Hill and Ashley Hill were named to the all-tournament team.
“I was very happy for them,” Spuhl said. “They’re all very deserving of the honors. They played their butts off the past three days. It’s not easy to play three games in a row, especially when everybody’s expecting to be off for Christmas. I’m really happy with how we played.”
Hill said the Lady Indians work on improving every day.
“We’ve been working hard every day in practice to improve,” Kya Hill said. “That’s all we focus on is to work hard, get better and improve every game.”
Spuhl credited Pacific’s defense.
“We played good today,” Spuhl said. “We had good defense again. Lindbergh wouldn’t go away. We were up 14-2 at one point and they started making some threes, so we had to step up and overcome their run. We did a good job to be up at halftime and put them away in the second half.”
Almo led Pacific in scoring during the game with 13 points.
Kya Hill was next with 12 points.
“You have to find ways to get around that. Our guards do a good job getting the ball inside to us,” Hill said about playing against a taller Lindbergh team.
“Kya Hill had a fantastic game,” Spuhl said. “Everyone played good today.”
Ashley Hill and Ellen Rogers each netted eight points in the game.
Abby Spuhl scored five points.
Hunter Kelemen added two points and Meagan Wakefield closed with one point.
Lindbergh was paced by its all-tournament selections, Angela Black (12 points) and Lindsey Bozdeck (eight points).
Linsey Klein and Kavita Krell scored six points apiece. Frannie Shillato netted five points and added 10 rebounds. Arika Snopek scored three points.
“They’re not going to quit,” Spuhl said. “(Bill) Thoele’s the legend at Lindbergh. He’s going to keep those girls going hard all the time. It’s never going to be easy playing them.”
Pacific started the game on fire. The Lady Indians jumped out to a 12-0 lead before Lindbergh found the basket once.
The Lady Indians got scores by Ashley Hill, Kya Hill and Almo in the first 1:44 to force Lindbergh to take a timeout.
Coming back out, Rogers hit a pair of three-point baskets to double the lead, 12-0.
Lindbergh struggled shooting the ball. Kya Hill showed hands of glue, intercepting passes and blocking shots.
“I had my lucky times in the first quarter,” Hill said. “Then I started swinging a little bit, which is what we’re not supposed to do.”
Lindbergh finally scored on a free throw by Shillato with 3:35 left in the first quarter. Pacific followed that with a basket by Kelemen off a rebound.
After one quarter, Pacific led, 14-2.
Forced into desperation shots in the second quarter, Lindbergh showed a tremendous run of luck to get back into the contest.
The Lady Flyers went on an 11-1 run to pull back to 17-13. And Lindbergh got four three-point baskets in the quarter. That included a rainbow shot by Bozdeck which dropped into the basket for three. And Shillato hit a bank shot off the backboard as well.
“We were playing good defense,” Spuhl said. “We knew we had to guard Bozdeck and Krell. We had hands in their faces. They were just making shots. They made four threes in that quarter and that got them back into the game.”
Pacific regrouped to take a five-point advantage into the intermission, 23-18.
“I think we realized that we all had to come back and start playing as a team again,” Almo said. “We knew we had to play as hard as we did in the first quarter and the third quarter and keep pushing it through to the fourth quarter.”
The Lady Indians repeated their first quarter success to start the second half, ripping off a 12-1 run.
Pacific enjoyed a 35-19 advantage before Lindbergh went on an 8-1 run to end the half. Still, Pacific’s run early in the quarter was more than sufficient to keep a comfortable cushion heading into the final quarter, 36-27.
Pacific led by as much as 13 points in the fourth quarter and enjoyed a 12-point advantage with a minute to play before securing the nine-point win, 49-40.
Pacific starts its 2013 schedule at Northwest Thursday. Junior varsity action begins at 6 p.m.
“We needed this,” said Spuhl. “We had a couple of close tough losses to Union and Rolla coming into the tournament. We come back with Northwest and hopefully we can keep going.”