Trailing by two points after three quarters, McCluer North rallied past Pacific to take the championship at the 65th annual Borgia Turkey Tournament Saturday, 59-52.
The Indians (2-1) ended the third period in the championship game of Borgia’s annual Turkey Tournament Friday on a 13-4 run to take a 37-35 lead into the final eight minutes. In total, Pacific outscored McCluer North in the third quarter, 21-14.
However, the Stars (3-0) came surging back with a 24-15 final period to clinch the championship, its fifth since 2010.
In a back-and-forth game, McCluer North led the early frames — 10-9 after the first quarter and 21-16 at halftime.
“We struggled offensively in the first half,” Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer said. “Sixteen points in the first half, that’s not very good for us, but we’ve got to give them credit. They guarded us. We’ve got to do a better job of executing and finishing some plays. We didn’t shoot the three as well as we normally do. It’s just one of those things. Somebody’s got to lose every night. We got a lot better tonight though. Playing a team like that makes you better. That’s a lot better game than playing somebody and winning by like 30 or 40.”
The third quarter got turned around as Pacific found itself trailing 31-24 with a little more than four minutes to go after a scoreboard issue was resolved.
The Indians drew a pair of shooting fouls and made good on three of the four attempts from the charity stripe. Cameron VanLeer added a runner into the lane for two and Matt Strong knocked down the team’s lone three-point basket of the game to close the lead to one at 33-32.
Forward Tom Hennessy was then fouled going up for a dunk and knocked down both his free throws to take a one-point lead.
“Trey Boyer kind of took over a little bit there,” VanLeer said of his point guard in the third quarter. “He got to the rim, made a couple of baskets there and made a couple of free throws for us. Cam got to the rim there. Loved it when Tom tried to go dunk on the guy. I mean just the aggressiveness there is what I want to see out of him.”
The Stars answered back with a basket from Patrick Evans to retake the lead before Matt Strong’s inbound heave to the opposite free-throw line found Cameron VanLeer in stride for two points and a foul. VanLeer completed the three-point play to finish the quarter-ending run.
McCluer North evened the score in the first minute and a half of the final period and the game stayed to within a couple of baskets the rest of the way until the final minute. There, Pacific trailed by three and sent the Stars to the free-throw line to prolong the game. McCluer North made good on four of its six attempts from the free-throw line in the final 40 seconds to pull away.
Pacific was able to get off a few more three point attempts, but couldn’t get anything else to fall. The Indians were 1-20 from three-point range in the contest.
Conversely, McCluer North was 5-12 from beyond the arc and was able to get a late edge with a pair of threes in the fourth quarter.
“They made a few threes there,” Coach VanLeer said. “We were playing zone and that got us back into the game. I don’t usually play much zone, but I switched to it and it was pretty effective. They got a couple rebounds of the zone, which it’s hard to block out in the fourth quarter, before we switched back to man and they also made a couple of threes because we didn’t get back to them. Maybe should have switched back to man a little sooner, but we played the zone so well — I’m not going to second-guess myself.”
Cameron VanLeer led the Indians with 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Hennessy put up 13 points to go with four rebounds, two blocks and one assist.
Both VanLeer and Hennessy were selected to the all-tournament team. That tandem accounted for all 16 of Pacific’s first half points.
Boyer posted 10 points, all in the second half and added five rebounds, two assists, one block and a steal.
Other scorers for the Indians were Ryan Sauvage with five points and Strong with three. Sauvage added five rebounds and a steal.
Strong and Jordan Cowsert each pulled down two rebounds.
For the Stars, tournament MVP A’Tavian Butler led the way with 18 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and four steals.
Butler was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Evans and Steve Lee.
Evans had nine points and eight rebounds against the Indians. He added two assists and one steal.
Lee put up 12 points to go with two rebounds and one block in the championship game.
Other scorers for McCluer North included Aaron Daniels with eight points, Mekai Ray with seven, Sylvan Mosley-Mull with four and Devon Ephron with one.