Before the excitement of Austin South’s 3/4-court shot that won the game, Switzerland County and North Decatur battled toe-to-toe last Friday night in the semifinal round of the Southwestern Class 2A Sectional.
The battle was so close, four quarters wasn’t enough to settle the matter, and after an overtime period and historic shot, the Pacers advanced with a 62-60 victory.
The first quarter saw the Pacers break out early on baskets by South, Kyle Whitham, and Tyler Konkle; and after Cameron Adams hit a three-pointer for the Chargers, another basket by South kept the lead at five. Evan Smith then hit North Decatur’s second three-pointer of the period; but Switzerland County ended the quarter on a run, scoring eight straight points on an inside bucket by Whitham and two straight three-pointers by South to grab a 16-6 lead after one quarter.
North Decatur then opened the second stanza on a tear, scoring 14 straight points over a span of six minutes to move out to a 20-16 lead. Cameron Adams did much of the damage for the Chargers, hitting three three-pointers and adding a field goal; while Garrett Ward had a three-point play.
With two minutes until the half, coach Adam Dennis’ Pacers made another run from long distance. South hit two three-pointers and Damian Breeck made a trey that accounted for nine straight points to end the half, and after Craig Adams scored for North Decatur at the buzzer, an exciting first half ended with Switzerland County in front, 25-22.
North Decatur then came out hot in the second half, as a field goal by Garrett Metz and two freethrows from Adams pushed the Chargers in front, 26-25.
A basket by Breeck retook the lead for the Pacers momentarily; with a freethrow by Tyler Walterman and a basket by Cameron Adams again giving the Chargers a two-point lead. Whitham then stopped that and tied the game with a bucket; and after Breeck gave the Pacers a lead, Cameron Adams scored on three straight trips, two field goals and a three-pointer, that gave North Decatur a 36-31 advantage.
Again the Pacers responded, getting two freethrows from South and a three-pointer by Breeck to knot the game at 36-36 with eight minutes of regulation left.
The final eight minutes belonged to Cameron Adams, as the junior would account for all 15 points that North Decatur would have in the period, including four field goals, a three-pointer, and 4-for-8 from the freethrow line.
The Pacers saw a more balanced attack in the quarter, riding the hot inside hand of Tyler Konkle, who had seven points; along with the outside shooting of South, who had a pair of three-pointers in the period. Whitham provided the other basket.
With four minutes to go in the regulation, North Decatur was holding a 46-41 lead, but South hit a three-pointer; Cameron Adams followed that with a basket; and South capped that with his second three-pointer. When Konkle scored with two minutes left, the Pacers held a one-point lead.
Cameron Adams hit a three-pointer to give the Chargers a two point lead, and when Whitham powered his way to the bucket with 39-seconds left, the game was tied at 51-51 and the squads headed to a four-minute overtime period.
The Chargers got off quickly, getting a basket by Metz and a freethrow by Alex Stirn to take a three-point lead.
After Whitham made one freethrow attempt, the Chargers moved out to a four point lead on the strength of two freethrows by Craig Adams. South scored on a runner in the lane; but two freethrows by Wood again made the lead four points with 46-seconds left.
Whitham then drilled one of the most clutch three-pointers of the season to bring the deficit down to one; and after Wood missed two freethrows for North Decatur, Whitham scored again to suddenly give Switzerland County a 59-58 lead with 16-seconds left. North Decatur worked for a go-ahead shot, and as time ran down, Walterman was fouled with just 2.2-seconds left and sent to the line for two freethrows. Walterman made both attempts, which pushed North Decatur out in front by one — and set the stage for what might be the biggest shot in Switzerland County basketball history.
Whitham inbounded the ball to South, who let a 3/4-court shot fly — and when the shot found its range, Switzerland County celebrated a 62-60 win and moved them on to Saturday night’s Sectional finale against Southwestern.
South had a huge night even without the shot, scoring 29 points, while Whitham finished with 14 points and Breeck had 10. Konkle added the other nine points.
Cameron Adams served notice that he is one of the best players in the area, as the junior led all scorers with 35 points; while Craig Adams had nine points.