Pacific and St. Clair, the only Four Rivers Conference schools in the St. Francis Borgia Thanksgiving Tournament, slugged it out Saturday in the seventh-place contest.
Sixth-seeded Pacific (1-2) escaped with a 55-48 victory over the eighth-seeded Bulldogs.
“It’s nice to get a win. We started slow for the second game in a row. We have to figure out how to play better at the beginning of games,” said Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer. “We came out of this one OK, but were outscored 10-2 in the first quarter against Carnahan. If we would have scored at all in the first quarter, we would have won that game.”
St. Clair (0-3) held the lead for much of the first half until the Indians took the lead for good late in the second period.
“It’s a process for us. Our kids want to win, so they’re disappointed. We continue to get better. Our defense was better,” said St. Clair Head Coach Casey Korn. “We made some mistakes at bad times. We had some bad fouls and didn’t block out at times. We have to eliminate those things. Overall, I was happy. We have to correct mistakes. We have to get better.”
Cullen VanLeer paced the Indians with 18 points and six rebounds. He represented Pacific on the all-tournament team.
Sophomore Noah Boyer gave the Indians a spark with 12 points. Tanner Brown also scored 12 points.
Zeth Boyer added eight points and six rebounds.
Jeffrey Hinkle collected one point and 10 rebounds.
Brendan Jett-Kell finished with three points. Stephen Watson had one point.
Logan Armstrong and Neil DeBold also played.
“Zeth is playing with a badly sprained wrist and had his best offensive game so far. He went to the boards hard and rebounded really well,” VanLeer said. “Noah (Zeth’s younger brother) shoots the basketball really well when he gets his feet under him. If he’s not the best three-point shooter in our program, he’s the second-best.”
Reno Jones led St. Clair with 15 points. He hit four three-pointers, three in the final two minutes of the game.
“Reno has a nice shot with a high release,” Korn said. “We’re going to need him. Adam Brott is more of a slasher. We need some outside shots to fall and he gave us that.”
Neyko Dominguez collected 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. He represented St. Clair on the all-tournament team.
Brandon York finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
Will Rolley scored six points. Evan Murphy netted five points. Adam Brott added two points and six rebounds. Ben Feddersen had two points.
Evan Powell, Austin Gotway and Spencer Crumbaugh also played.
Pacific had a huge advantage from the free-throw line, going 23-36. St. Clair was only 2-4.
St. Clair held leads of 10-7 after one quarter and 15-12 with two minutes left in the second period.
VanLeer scored seven points and Brown added three points in the final two minutes to lift the Indians to a 22-17 halftime advantage.
The Bulldogs cut Pacific’s lead to two points twice during the third quarter, but could never pull even.
The Indians led 37-31 after three quarters.
A basket by Rolley made the score 37-33 with 6:56 left in the game.
Pacific responded with an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 45-33 with 5:21 remaining.
“We started making shots and got some confidence. Once that happens, teams typically go on runs. We executed better in the second half,” VanLeer said. “Our defensive effort was real good. Jones hit three threes in the last two minutes, but other than that, we played solid defensively.”
Jones caught fire from the three-point line three times down the stretch to keep the Bulldogs alive.
“Pacific was picked to win our conference and we were right there with them,” Korn said. “We just need to continue to take steps forward. We have to keep building.”
“Last year, we also went 1-2 in this tournament and then we went on a run,” VanLeer said. “We need to build from this. We have some things we need to fix. We have to continue to work hard and get on a roll.”