Eight minutes to play.
Switzerland County, twice a victor over conference rival Southwestern, found itself down by six, 28-22, heading into the final quarter in the opening round of Tuesday’s Class 2A Sectional tournament.
The alternating possession arrow gave the Pacers the ball to open the quarter, and as both teams broke the huddle, Switzerland County head coach Adam Dennis sent his troops to the floor for one last battle.
The ball was inbounded, and the Pacers moved it around the perimeter until it fell into the hands of Riley Phagan in the far baseline corner.
Setting his feet, the senior lifted for a jumper. Miss it, and Southwestern begins to milk the clock and the Pacers are forced to scramble.
But he didn’t miss it.
Crowd goes crazy.
Kollin Hayes converts the miscue into a layup.
29 seconds into the final quarter.
Pacers down just one.
Crowd gets louder.
Momentum shifts in a big way.
The Pacers used that early offensive barrage to go on a 17-2 run over the first half of the final quarter, and coasted from there for a 49-43 Sectional win.
But it all started in the corner.
Phagan has been the team’s long range bomber for the entire season; and the senior knew the significance of his shot as he let it go.
Rebel coach Jerry Bomholt is well known for a patient, deliberate style of offense, and it’s particularly effective in tournament play, where the only thing that matters is winning – not the number of points scored.
But the shot was true – the first of four three-pointers that Phagan would make in the final quarter – and the Pacers survived and advanced into tomorrow (Friday) night’s semifinal game against Austin. The contest is scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m., weather permitting.
For more on Tuesday’s Sectional game, see the story on page A-7 of today’s edition.
– Pat Lanman