In a matchup we could see again in the Class 3 District 6 Tournament, Pacific got the better of Borgia.
The Indians (14-4) defeated a very game Borgia (8-10) team that is making strides at the right time of the season, 55-49, Tuesday at Pacific.
Pacific overcame a three-point deficit at the half, outscoring the Knights 29-20 in the second half.
“At halftime, we talked about that they were getting all the loose balls,” Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer said. “I think that they were willing to battle in the first half on the boards. I think that in the second half we did that.”
Leading the way for Pacific was Cameron VanLeer, with his second-highest point total of the season, 34.
Borgia had led 9-8 after the first quarter and 29-26 at halftime.
“We played some pretty good basketball and they missed some shots the first quarter,” Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier said. “They do a lot of good things. Obviously, VanLeer really showed up. I mean, he really did some things that really made it tough on us and we didn’t do a very good job of staying in front of him. He was able to penetrate and not only make shots, but make some darn good passes too. He’s a pretty complete ballplayer, especially on the offensive end and he does a lot of good things for them. He’s also a tough rebounder and a tough defender and he kind of took over the game, but I was proud of our kids. We kept fighting and stayed in the game and even had a chance at the end.”
Cameron VanLeer scored 16 of his points in the second quarter, keeping the Indians close in the early going. He also led the team in rebounds with eight, adding three assists and one blocked shot.
“Cam took his game to a new level,” Coach VanLeer said. “When he gets going, he’s pretty hard to stop because he can make the three and off the catch he can hit the step-back three and get midrange. He can get all the way to the rim. You can post him up. He just can do just a variety of things. Just really playing well. The step he’s made from last year — part of last year was he had a lot of the same things. He wasn’t quite as strong, having mono and then played with ankle injuries all year. We just never really got him going, but he’s playing really well right now and his teammates do a great job of getting the ball and setting screens for him.”
Pacific outscored the Knights 17-9 in the third quarter to take a 43-38 advantage into the final quarter.
Matt Strong was the next highest scorer for Pacific with seven points.
Other Indians scorers included Tom Hennessy with four points, three points apiece from Trey Boyer and Joey Casey, and two each from Don’TA Harris and Ryan Sauvage.
Harris, a freshman, got extended playing time beyond his usual minutes in the contest due to teammate Jordan Cowsert getting into early foul trouble. It was Harris’ second appearance of the night after playing in the JV game that preceded the varsity. Based off his performance, Harris could be in line for more varsity playing time and less with the JV squad, Coach VanLeer said.
“I think a big spark of ours was when I brought Don’TA Harris off the bench,” Coach VanLeer said. “He got a couple of rebounds and assists, made a couple of free throws and then got on the floor over here and just got our team going. They kind of fed off it. He hasn’t played much at all this year and I just had a little hunch. He played pretty good in the JV game and Jordan got in foul trouble and I decided to give him a shot and he stepped up big.”
Pacific also got six rebounds from Boyer, four from Hennessy and three each from Harris and Cowsert. Strong pulled down two rebounds and Sauvage grabbed one.
Boyer tied Cameron VanLeer for the team lead in assists with three. Cowsert, Harris and Mason Fleming each recorded one assist.
Strong took away four steals. Sauvage stole two and Boyer one.
Hunter Mehler led the Knights with 11 points.
Next was Eli Marquart, who also got into double figures with 10 points.
Jacob Unnerstall added nine points for Borgia with seven coming from Max Meyers, six from Brendan Smith, four from Michael Baylard and two from Will Elbert.
Unnerstall and Elbert were the team’s leading rebounders with five apiece.
Smith pulled down four rebounds. Mehler, Marquart and Meyers each recorded three rebounds. Dalton Shust rebounded one.
“One thing we do, we have some height on this team and if our guys can get in position, then we should dominate on the boards, but we do let other teams get by us and get position on us,” Neier said. “That’s something that we’ve got to keep working on.”
Meyers and Unnerstall each dished out four assists.
Baylard and Marquart each assisted with three. Mehler recorded two assists. Smith and Trent Strubberg were each credited with one assist.
Marquart picked up three steals.
Unnerstall stole two while Mehler, Meyers and Baylard each swiped one.
Elbert and Smith both blocked two shots.