By definition, ‘trinity’ refers to three – and with Christmas near, it was only fitting that when Trinity Lutheran came to Switzerland County for last Friday night’s “Silent Night” game, three-pointers would play a big role in the outcome.
Between the two teams, 21 three-pointers were made in the game – with Trinity Lutheran converting 11 attempts and Switzerland County making 10 – but it was strong play inside that led Coach Adam Dennis’ Pacers to a 69-60 win.
By design, the Pacer student section and cheerleaders were completely silent as the game began, only breaking out into loud cheers when Switzerland County made its 10th point of the game. It didn’t take long, as the Pacers rode the hot outside shooting of senior Dakota Fuller to a quick 10-0 lead.
Switzerland County would score 26 points in the opening period – their highest quarter point total of the year – while breaking away early from the Cougars, who managed 12 points over the first eight minutes.
Fuller did most of the damage, making three three-pointers for nine points; while Kollin Hayes led the way with 10 points, including a three-pointer, two field goals, and a pair of freethrows.
Work was also being done on the inside, as Justin Green had four points in the first period and Hunter Hayes added three.
Up by 14 after one quarter, the Pacers settled into a back and forth battle with Trinity Lutheran in the second, as the Cougars outscored the Pacers 15-11, including opening the period on a 13-3 run that narrowed the lead down to 28-25 with 3:05 to go until halftime.
The three-pointers continued to fall, with Austin South making two treys and Kollin Hayes adding another three and a field goal for five points – but that was all of the scoring that the Pacers got.
Trinity Lutheran got two threes from Jacob Rowe and one from Chad Stuckwisch to help pace a balanced attack that saw five different players score in the quarter.
At the half, Switzerland County’s lead was still in double digits, 37-27.
Trinity was content throughout the game to stay on the perimeter of the Pacer defense and not wander into the paint, where Green and Hunter Hayes were waiting – and that strategy worked marginally well, but in the third quarter the Cougars again had trouble making shots.
Switzerland County didn’t have that problem, winning the period by a 17-10 count and pushing the lead up to 54-37 with a quarter still to play.
Green and Hunter Hayes each had four points in the period, but their presence in the lane was a match up nightmare for the Cougars.
The crowd exploded at the 4:29 mark of the third when Hunter Hayes jammed home a big dunk that made the score 49-29, again keeping the Pacers lead at a comfortable distance.
Kollin Hayes continued his steady play, making another three-pointer and adding two freethrows; while Casper Stow also got into the act with a three-pointer. Sophomore Tyler Konkle also came off of the bench for some critical minutes of playing time in the second half, and added a freethrow to the third period totals.
The final quarter saw lots of freethrow attempts and another big run by Trinity Lutheran, but Switzerland County made crucial attempts and critical junctures, and pulled out the nine-point win, 69-60.
Trinity’s Colten Wischmeier was hot early in the quarter, making two three-pointers; and at one point the Cougars had cut the deficit to single digits, down nine, 54-45, with 6:38 to go.
Things steadied a bit, but the Cougars again pounced, this time slicing the lead to just five, 56-51, with 3:25 left; but that set up a critical moment in the game.
Green and fouled and went to the line for two with three minutes left and the lead still at five. The senior center made the first attempt, but when the second bounced free, Konkle raced in for a key offensive rebound; and when the ball went back inside to Green, he was fouled as his shot found the range; and the resulting freethrow made it a nine point lead. 60-51.
Trinity Lutheran didn’t go away, cutting the lead down to four, 61-57, with just under two minutes to play.
Again Switzerland County responded when it needed to, with South and Kollin Hayes each converting two freethrows that kept the lead at a distance with under a minute to play; and a basket at the end was icing on the cake, as the Pacers pulled out a 69-60 win.
Kollin Hayes led the Pacers in scoring with 23 points; while Green finished with 14 hard-fought points inside. Fuller was also in double figures thanks to his hot start, wrapping up with 11 points on the night.
South had eight points on the strength of his two three-pointers; while Hunter Hayes had seven and Konkle had three.
As a team, the Pacers made 12 field goals and 10 three-pointers, but things could have been easier, as Switzerland County was just 15-for-28 from the freethrow line.
Rowe led Trinity Lutheran with 19 points; while Wischmeier had 18 points and Stuckwisch finished with 13.
The Cougars made just nine field goals; but padded that with 11 three-pointers, and were also 9-for-12 from the freethrow line.
In the junior varsity game, Trinity Lutheran defeated Switzerland County by a final score of 52-40.
Individual scoring was not available at press time.