Mark at least one piece of business as finished for Pacific hoops.
The Indians (19-4, 7-0) completed a sweep of the Four Rivers Conference to secure the conference title Friday with a 56-38 home win over Sullivan (12-12, 3-3).
After being denied what would have been a fourth-consecutive conference championship by the Eagles last season, Pacific made sure that wouldn’t be the case again by holding Sullivan below 10 points per quarter for each of the first three periods. The Indians kept Sullivan completely off the scoreboard for the first three minutes of action.
Pacific did not allow more than 45 points against any conference opponent this season, outscoring FRC foes by an average of 62-38.
“That’s what you win with,” Head Coach John VanLeer said. “Defense wins championships and I’m a big believer in that. There’s some nights your shots aren’t going to fall, but you can play defense every night.”
Pacific led 11-9 after the first quarter and took a 26-15 advantage into halftime.
The Indians put the game away with a 17-7 third quarter, leading 43-22 going into the final period.
While the victory avenges last season’s conference loss at Sullivan, it doesn’t completely even the score the Indians want to settle. The Eagles were also responsible for ending Pacific’s season a year ago in the Class 4 District 6 semifinals in a game that went to two overtimes. As a result of those two losses, Pacific’s pregame warmups this season say “Unfinished Business.”
“After the Owensville game the other day, I wrote two scores on the board from last year — how they took the conference from us and there’s another one on there too from the last game of the year,” VanLeer said. “That’s where that came from, but that’s not the main one. This is just a little step for us. I’m proud of the kids, undefeated conference champs, but that doesn’t keep us playing. To keep us playing is the next tournament.”
If Sullivan defeats Parkway West in the first round of the district playoffs Saturday, the two teams would have another rematch in the district semifinals Tuesday in Union.
Matt Strong led the Indians Friday with 11 points.
Jordan Cowsert and Cameron VanLeer both reached double figures as well with 10 points each.
Trey Boyer and Ryan Sauvage added eight points apiece.
Don’TA Harris scored six points for the Indians.
Mason Fleming rounded out the Pacific scoring with three points.
Cameron VanLeer led the team in rebounds, 10, and assists, eight. He also recorded two steals.
Cowsert and Sauvage both pulled down four rebounds.
Boyer recorded three rebounds.
Harris rebounded two.
Fleming, Strong and Tom Hennessy all recorded one rebound.
Harris dished out three assists.
Boyer recorded two assists.
Joey Casey, Cowsert and Hennessy were each credited with one assist.
Hennessy matched Cameron VanLeer with two steals.
Boyer, Harris and Strong each came away with one steal.
Cody McKinney did the bulk of Sullivan’s scoring, finishing with 20 points.
Other Sullivan scorers were Caleb Todd (nine points), Landon Hoffman (five), Austin Lewis (three) and Austin Frye (one).
Pacific concludes its regular season with nonconference games Tuesday at Rolla and Thursday at home against Farmington.