The Switzerland County Lady Pacer basketball team, still learning the ropes as the young squad finds its footing, took a giant step last Wednesday night with a pre-Thanksgiving night game against North Decatur.
Having averaged just over 41 points per game over their first five; the Lady Pacers on Wednesday exploded for 72 points; but still fell to a strong Lady Charger team in overtime, 74-72.
The team’s sixth loss of the year overshadowed not only an incredible individual effort by sophomore Aleiah Thomas, but also a team effort that saw Switzerland County fail to fold at critical times, battling back against the Lady Chargers throughout the night.
Thomas finished with 32 points on the night, and also had nine rebounds, six steals, and three assists. Thomas’ six three-pointers on the night fell just short of the school record of eight, which is held by Chastity Hunt.
The Lady Pacers got off to a quick lead, scoring the first six points of the contest; but North Decatur battled back behind senior center Sarah Bohman, who connected on two straight buckets. The game continued to go back and forth, and with Switzerland County holding an 8-6 lead, the Lady Pacers went on a run of six straight behind two baskets by Thomas and a bucket by Kinsley Griffith.
Up eight, the Lady Pacers saw the North Decatur offense storm back, as the Lady Chargers scored eight straight of their own to tie the game at 14-14 after one period.
The second quarter began with the same intensity, as North Decatur opened the period with four straight points; but Thomas stopped that run with a three-pointer. North Decatur’s Maddy Day matched that with a three-pointer; but Thomas bounced right back with her second three-pointer in a 30-second span to cut the lead down to one. North Decatur’s Morgan Stanley then hit a three-pointer, and with 4:35 to play, the Lady Chargers held a 24-20 lead. Again Switzerland County raced back, getting two freethrows from Lexi Lay; and after North Decatur made two charities, Jaelyn Hemingway scored inside to keep the Lady Pacers close.
Thomas then tied the game at 28-28 with another three-pointer with two minutes left; but North Decatur got a three-pointer from Day and a basket from Sarah Bohman to take a five-point lead. McKenli Scudder hit a freethrow for Switzerland County; and after Sarah Bohman scored for the Lady Chargers, the half ended with Thomas making two freethrows and Calleigh Powell hit a long three-pointer at the buzzer to close the first 16 minutes of play with North Decatur holding a 35-34 lead.
Thomas opened the second half with another three-pointer that gave the Lady Pacers the lead; but North Decatur matched that with a three-pointer from Day and two straight inside buckets by Sarah Bohman to again go up by five. Scudder hit a basket; but Sarah Bohman matched that as Switzerland County tried to control the senior center. Scudder scored again for the Lady Pacers, but North Decatur went on another run, scoring five straight to take their largest lead of the night, 49-41.
Thomas made two freethrows to stop that run; and after Sarah Bohman scored again, Switzerland County then saw its offense catch fire, as Thomas drilled two straight three-pointers and Lay made two more freethrows to tie the game at 51-51 with 1:36 to go in the quarter. Jesse Closser stopped that run with a buckets; but Powell connected on two freethrows that closed the period with the teams again tied, 53-53.
The final quarter of regulation began with Powell hitting a basket, but North Decatur matched that, and everyone settled in for an exciting ending to an outstanding game.
The teams battled back and forth early, and Griffith pushed Switzerland County back in front with a three-pointer with 3:52 left that was followed by a basket by Jody Breeck, and Switzerland County held to a three-point lead. Again North Decatur went back inside to Sarah Bohman, who drew the Lady Chargers to within one; but Scudder made a pair of freethrows that again pushed the lead to three. That led to a key moment in the game, as North Decatur’s Stanley went to the line with 2:21 to go looking to complete a three-point play. He freethrow attempt bounced off, but Sarah Bohman grabbed the rebound and made the put-back, putting North Decatur in front again, 65-64.
The game also featured an odd moment, as with two minutes to play Switzerland County took a shot, but the ball came to rest on the back and rim, not rolling off and not rolling in. After the officials waited to see if the ball would roll in or out, a jump ball was called and the goal was shaken to get the ball down.
Stanley would make a freethrow to extend the North Decatur lead to two; but Thomas was fouled while attempting a three-pointer, and she converted two of those attempts to tie the game at 66-66 and send the teams into an extra four minute overtime period.
Breeck opened the overtime with two freethrows to give Switzerland County the lead, but North Decatur responded with two straight three-pointers to go up by four. Again Switzerland County battled back, as Thomas would convert four straight freethrows to again tie the game at 72-72 with 26-seconds left; but North Decatur poured the ball inside to Sarah Bohman, and she scored with just three-seconds remaining to allow the Lady Chargers to escape with a 74-72 win.
Along with the outstanding game by Thomas, Switzerland County saw Breeck finish with nine points and eight rebounds; and Griffith also had nine points to go with a pair of rebounds. Powell had seven points; Scudder had seven points, two steals, and three assists; Lay had six points, five rebounds and two assists; and Hemingway had two points.
Sarah Bohman led North Decatur with 33 points on the night; while Day had 13, Closser had eight; and Stanley and Olivia Bohman each had six.
In the junior varsity game, the Lady Pacers earned their first win of the season with a 35-22 victory over North Decatur.
Josie Meyer was the leading scorer for Switzerland County with 11 points; while Brooke Johnson was also in double figures with 10. Emma Sullivan had eight points; Calleigh Powell had four; and Keirstan Oeffinger had two.