Chalk one up for the Four Rivers Conference.
Sullivan, the Four Rivers Conference co-champion, knocked out Archdiocesan Athletic Association champion Borgia Friday during Class 4 District 9 semifinal action in Pacific, 51-42.
“We just found a way to win,” Sullivan Head Coach Jason Merkel said. “At this point in the season, you’re not going to change much. You just throw it up and 32 minutes later, see who’s going to win.”
It was the third meeting of the season between Sullivan (21-4) and Borgia (19-7) with all three meetings coming in tournament semifinals.
Sullivan, the second seed in the tournament, went on to claim the title with a win Saturday over Pacific.
“The game was a hard fought battle,” Borgia Head Coach Stacia Parsell said. “Sullivan did a great job of hitting a big shot when they needed it. We played pretty well overall.”
Friday’s semifinal game opened with another close first quarter as Sullivan led 10-9 after eight minutes of action.
The Lady Eagles extended that lead to 23-20 at the intermission.
Borgia cut into the lead in the third quarter, but Sullivan still led 32-30 after three quarters of action.
“Molly Arand hit seven quick points in the third quarter to make it a one-point game,” Merkel said. “We always know that Borgia is going to make a run. You saw it in the St. Clair game, too. They’re just always going to make a run. You have to withstand that. Our kids stayed composed and found a way to win.”
As had happened in the first two meetings, Sullivan was able to consolidate its lead in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Knights by a 19-11 rate.
Sullivan was able to seal the win at the free-throw line, going 15-20 from the stripe.
“When Sullivan was up by five with two minutes to go we could only hope they missed some free throws,” Parsell said. “Sullivan shot 75 percent from the free throw line while we shot 61 percent, that was the difference. I would have liked to have seen us get to the free-throw line a bit more.”
Junior Taylor Lucas led the Lady Eagles in scoring with 14 points. She came through in the clutch, hitting six of eight free-throw chances.
Junior Sierra Pryor scored 13 points for Sullivan.
Senior Demi Reed netted nine points while going 5-6 from the free-throw line.
Junior Aley Lucas scored six points.
Senior Jessica Heinle added five points.
Sophomore Megan Brandt ended with four points.
Also playing was sophomore Kaitlynn Hill.
Junior Janie Arand led Borgia with 14 points. She hit three three-point baskets while adding two assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Senior Katie Lindemann scored 10 points while adding four rebounds, one assist and one steal. She was 4-6 from the free-throw line.
Sophomore Molly Arand netted seven points with four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Junior Emily Grahl scored seven points with five assists, four rebounds and one steal.
“We knew we had to stop dribble penetration better,” Merkel said. “Emily killed us the first two games with dribble penetration. We did a better job against that. We contained Janie a lot better and always knew where she was.”
Sophomore Cassandra Halsted scored two points with five rebounds and two steals.
Freshman Megan Jensen scored two points with two rebounds.
Also playing was senior Morgan Spradling, who had one rebound.
“It was a successful season,” Parsell said. “I am really proud of this team. Katie Lindemann, Morgan Spradling and Madison Wehking will be missed. Katie Lindemann did a lot of the little things on the court that we will miss. Hopefully we can start a new tradition: AAA conference champs and district champs next season. We have a lot to build on next season.”