Pacific’s hopes of a Four Rivers Conference boys basketball championship took a major hit last Friday at Sullivan High School.
The Indians (13-9, 3-2) fell two games behind conference leader St. Clair with a 53-42 loss to Sullivan.
With two league games remaining Tuesday at Hermann and Friday at home against St. Clair, Pacific must win both games and hope teams ahead of them in the standings suffer losses.
Sullivan (15-7, 4-1) has league games left against Union and St. James.
“We still have an outside chance for at least tie for the conference, but we definitely need some help,” said Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer. “Right now, we have to worry about ourselves and get ready for the district tournament.”
Pacific dominated Sullivan 53-20 earlier in the season in the championship game of the Owensville Tournament, but that certainly wasn’t the case this time around.
It was the Eagles who started fast on their home court, jumping to a 17-6 lead after one quarter and never looking back.
Dino McKinney’s Eagles led 28-15 at halftime and 39-31 after three quarters.
Cullen VanLeer led the way with nine points, four assists and three steals.
Tanner Brown finished with eight points, three assists and two steals.
Logan Armstrong and Noah Boyer both added six points.
Zeth Boyer collected four points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Jeffrey Hinkle had four points and four rebounds.
Brendan Jett-Kell pitched in with three points and two assists.
Zach Kraus had two points. and three assists.
Neil DeBold and Stephen Watson also played.
Pacific attempted only five free throws, making three of them.
Justin Biermann led Sullivan with 18 points. J.C. Beckett scored 13 points.
“You have to give Sullivan credit. They were ready to play,” VanLeer said. “We’ve competed in most of our games this year. This just wasn’t a good one for us.”
Trailing by eight points after three quarters, Pacific could not make a fourth-quarter-run.
“We had it down to six points with plenty of time left,” VanLeer said. “We had a couple of turnovers, a couple of bad shots and our defense wasn’t very good. We have to shoot the ball better than we have in our last couple of games.”
The two teams could meet again at the Class 4 District 9 Tournament Feb. 25-March 2, hosted by Pacific.
The second-seeded Indians received a first-round bye and will play the winner between third-seeded Sullivan and sixth-seeded Owensville (to be played Feb. 25) in the semifinals Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Borgia is the top seed followed by Pacific, Sullivan, St. Clair, Union and Owensville.