Pacific had four players score in double figures and nine got into the scoring column overall against Herculaneum Wednesday at the 61st Annual St. Francis Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Indians put up 30 points in the first quarter and cruised to a 79-36 win over Herculaneum.
“We played really well in the first quarter. We’re not going to be a great pressing team. We still got some turnovers and jumped out to an early lead,” said Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer. “I thought we lost our focus in the second quarter. I wasn’t pleased with how we played. We weren’t communicating, weren’t in good position defensively and were a little sloppy with the basketball. We were pretty solid again in the third quarter and then the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.”
Pacific (1-0) plays Cardinal Ritter (1-0) Friday night in a Blue Division contest with the winner advancing to the championship game Saturday at 6 p.m. The loser plays for third place Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday’s opponent will be either McCluer North or Carnahan.
“We’re going to have a much bigger challenge on Friday night against Cardinal Ritter. We’ll have to be ready for that,” VanLeer said. “I’m glad we have two tough opponents ahead. I like to play tough competition against teams that are going to challenge us and make us better.”
Making his return to Pacific’s lineup after suffering a knee injury toward the end of last season, Pacific junior Cullen VanLeer finished the game with 20 points.
VanLeer set the tone early in the game with a two-handed slam dunk after stealing the ball on the Indians’ full-court press.
“Cullen is pretty explosive now. He’s worked hard in the weight room,” VanLeer said of his son. “It’s nice to see him back on the floor. This has been the longest he’s ever gone without playing a competitive game where it really meant something.”
Tanner Brown collected 13 points.
Jeffrey Hinkle gave Pacific a spark in the post, scoring 12 points.
“Jeffrey is much improved. Last year, he was pretty much a rebounder and put back. He can knock down a 15-footer now,” VanLeer said. “He came in a lot last spring and did some shooting. He’s made himself a threat, which makes us a better team.”
Stephen Johnson also did damage in the post with 10 points.
Noah Boyer finished the game with seven points. Logan Armstrong and Tristan Moore both scored five points.
Jacob Klenke, a freshman, pitched in with four points. Chris Klenke added three points. Zach Kraus also played.
“We have a solid bench,” VanLeer said. “We played 10 kids and I’m not uncomfortable putting any of them on the floor in any situation.”
Adam Fischer scored 20 points for the Blackcats (0-2), who will play in the Blue consolation game against Rockwood Summit Saturday at noon.
Pacific held the lead for the entire game, including a 30-11 advantage after one quarter.
The Indians outscored the Blackcats 19-10 in the second quarter to lead 49-21 at intermission.
Pacific doubled up on Herculaneum in the second half, 30-15, including 23-7 in the third quarter to lead 72-28 heading into the final eight minutes.