Shooting for its second tournament championship of the season, top-seeded Pacific got things going in the right direction with a 71-32 victory over eighth-seeded Jefferson Monday at the Union Boys Basketball Tournament.
The win snapped the Indians’ three-game losing streak.
“It was good to get the win. We lost three games in a row against three quality opponents. Those games are going to make us better,” said Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer. “Jefferson fought hard and hung around. We pressed them, which is something we don’t do a lot, just in case we need to do it later in the year. We fouled them too much, which gave them easy opportunities. At least we got to work on the press.”
The Indians (10-7) take on fifth-seeded St. Clair (7-9) in the championship semifinals Friday at 6 p.m.
Pacific defeated St. Clair early in the year in the seventh-place game of the Borgia Turkey Tournament, 55-48.
“St. Clair has gotten better. Casey (Korn) is doing a nice job. It takes a while to get adjusted to a new coach,” VanLeer said. “They have a lot of seniors who are playing well. It will be a different game than it was last time. I think we’re a lot better than we were at that time, too. It’s a conference opponent. We know them well. They know us.”
Cullen VanLeer led the way for Pacific against Jefferson with 21 points, 15 in the first quarter and 17 in the first half.
Jeffrey Hinkle finished the game with 11 points. Tanner Brown added 10 points.
Zeth Boyer pitched in with seven points. Stephen Watson netted six points.
Neil DeBold and Zach Kraus both registered four points. Brandon Colter and Brendan Jett-Kell both scored three points. Noah Boyer had two points. Logan Armstrong missed the game with an ankle injury.
“Jeffrey has to step up and look to score like he did here. He’s capable of doing it. It’s just a confidence thing for him,” VanLeer said. “Everybody scored. We didn’t play any starters from the last two minutes of the third quarter to the end of the game. It’s good for our bench guys to play.”
Darrick Brumley led Jefferson (7-10) with 15 points.
Pacific was 6-15 from the free-throw line. Jefferson was 14-18.
After the two teams went back-and-forth for the first three minutes, Pacific took off from there.
Leading 23-11 after one quarter, the Indians went on a 17-0 run over the final four minutes of the second quarter to lead 45-18 at halftime.
Pacific’s full court pressure led to steals and transition baskets. The Indians also got hot from the field.
It was more of the same in the third quarter for the Indians, who outscored Jefferson, 17-6, to increase their lead to 62-24.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
Playing last Saturday at the Mexico Shootout, Pacific lost to Helias, 56-44.
The second quarter was the difference for the Indians, who were outscored 14-2.
Pacific trailed 30-15 at halftime.
With the Crusaders leading 46-24 after three quarters, Pacific chipped away in the fourth quarter.
The Indians pulled to within six points, and had the ball, in the final two minutes, but couldn’t get closer.
“We were up 11-3 and Cullen had our first 11 points, and then they went ahead 16-13 after the first quarter,” VanLeer said. “Our first six possessions of the second quarter, we turned it over and didn’t get a shot. That set the tone. We struggled. We missed some shots. Zeth got in foul trouble.”
VanLeer paced Pacific with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Brown added 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Hinkle scored six points. Zeth Boyer and Noah Boyer both had two points.