Pacific certainly earned its championship plaque at the Lindbergh Girls Basketball Tournament.
The third-seeded Lady Indians knocked off the tournament’s top two seeds, St. Charles and Sullivan, both of whom had just one loss at the time, en route to a first-place finish.
Pacific (14-3) extended their winning streak to 11 games with a 51-45 victory over top-seeded St. Charles Friday in the championship game.
“It means a lot. We were underdogs. We’re known as a good team, but we’re not known as a great team. I think people are really going to have to look at us now,” said Pacific Head Coach Josh Spuhl. “We brought only eight players. All eight players did something important. The seniors stepped up big this week. Beating teams like Lindbergh, Sullivan and St. Charles in one week is huge for us.”
It’s the Lady Indians’ second tournament title this season after also winning the Seckman crown.
“That’s big. And I’m happy with third place at Marquette,” Spuhl said. “It’s been a great tournament year for us. Hopefully we can take it into districts.”
Representing Pacific on the all-tournament team were senior guards Lizzy Almo and Abby Spuhl and junior forward Kya Hill.
Playing against a St. Charles team with three players who stand 6-0, Almo was fearless in taking the ball to the basket and making things happen.
Almo scored 24 points in the championship game. She was 8-8 from the free-throw line, including 6-6 in the final 1:28 of the fourth quarter.
“It took a lot, but we did all the small things to accomplish the big things,” Almo said. “We’re playing as a team. Everyone is starting to open their eyes and realize that we have to play together as a team to win as a team. We knew what we had to do and we did it.”
Kya Hill, the tallest Lady Indian at 5-9, scored 14 points before fouling out with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter.
“Kya has the flu and she never quit. I’m very proud of her and the way she played so hard this week,” Spuhl said. “She’s a fantastic player. She’s finally starting to show that. Teams are going to have to worry about Kya.”
Ashley Hill played her usual solid game defensively and pitched in offensively with five points.
“Ashley played fantastic this week,” Spuhl said. “It was hard to pick three kids for the all-tournament team. Ashley definitely is deserving. She does everything I need, everything I ask. She can play the whole game. She’s a great kid.”
Hunter Kelemen and Meagan Wakefield both finished the game with three points. Ellen Rogers scored two points.
Abby Spuhl and Karlie King both played, but were held scoreless.
“We’re still young, but these girls have been playing together for a long time and it really shows,” Josh Spuhl said.
Gabby Walker, a 6-0 freshman, paced St. Charles with 17 points. Olivia Hollander, a 6-0 senior, added 16 points.
Trailing 15-10 after one quarter, the Lady Indians outscored St. Charles 17-6 in the second period to grab a 27-21 advantage at halftime.
Almo scored eight straight points during the mid stages of the second quarter, which gave Pacific the lead.
St. Charles (18-2) made a bit of a run in the third quarter, outscoring Pacific 15-10, to pull to within 37-36 heading into the final eight minutes.
The Pirates actually took a 38-37 lead with 6:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and also led 42-41 with 4:10 left to play.
Rogers then broke a tie with 1:52 remaining to give Pacific a 45-43 advantage.
The Lady Indians’ final six points came from Almo at the foul line.
“I wasn’t nervous at all. It’s just about going to the line and knocking them down,” Almo said.
“We were composed down the stretch. We kept getting the ball to Lizzy to get her to the free-throw line,” Spuhl added. “Lizzy is our senior leader. From 15 feet away, she’s scary. We try to get her there all day, especially against teams playing zone like they were tonight. The shots fell late when we really needed them to.”
Pacific (1-1 in the Four Rivers Conference) returns to action Thursday with a showdown at St. James (18-0, 2-0).
“Eleven wins in a row with St. James on Thursday,” Spuhl said. “It’s going to be fun going there. They’re playing fantastic. We’re not going to be scared. We’re going to go there and play hard.”