Amber Smith’s four three-pointers are not enough in title game loss


Switzerland County senior Amber Smith came out of the lockerroom on fire for Saturday night’s championship game tilt with South Dearborn in the Rivertown Classic, but in spite of making four three-pointers in the first half – three in a row at the beginning of the game – Switzerland County suffered through a sluggish third quarter and could never recover, losing by a final score of 56-47.

Amber Smith started the game off by igniting the Lady Pacer fans, converting three straight three-pointer to push Switzerland County out to an early 9-3 lead.

The lead would grow further as Maggie Armstrong would add a bucket and April Thieman would connect on a jumper, and with 2:30 to play, the Lady Pacers had opened a 13-3 advantage.

The Lady Knights weren’t done, however, as they rebounded with a run of five points to end the period trailing by a score of 13-8.

Courtney Cole, the target of the Lady Knight defense, opened the second stanza with a freethrow; but Ellie Smith answered that with a jumper to narrow the lead to four. Kristen Perry then converted from the baseline and Courtney Cole made a runner in the lane; but South Dearborn got three points from Abby Schmahl, a basket by Ellie Smith, and a jumper from Cydney Hayes to cut the lead down to one, 18-17.

That’s when Amber Smith connected on her fourth three-pointer of the period; and set up a strange occurrence at the end of the half.

South Dearborn missed a shot at the end of the quarter, and Courtney Cole grabbed the rebound and raced to midcourt before taking a long shot. As the ball left her hand, she was fouled by Ellie Smith, which sent Courtney Cole to the freethrow line for three freethrows with no time left on the clock.

South Dearborn coach Bob Bressert, enraged by the call, stomped off the court to his lockerroom, right across the freethrow lane where Courtney Cole was attempting her first freethrow – which went in.

The referees did nothing.

Meanwhile, the South Dearborn team was huddled around its bench and was also trying to get to the lockerroom. Players were on the floor and in front of Courtney Cole as she shot, but the referees again did nothing to move the players back or off of the floor.

Courtney Cole then missed the final two attempts, and everyone went to their lockerrooms with Switzerland County holding a 22-17 lead.

Whatever the South Dearborn coach said to his players at halftime, it must have worked wonders, because the Lady Knights came out with offensive firepower in the third quarter.

After Megan McCarty converted a traditional three-point play to start the quarter and give the Lady Pacers an eight point lead; South Dearborn ripped off nine straight points to take a 26-25 lead with five minutes to play in the quarter.

Courtney Cole then converted a traditional three-point play to take the lead back, but Ellie Smith drained another three-pointer to jump South Dearborn back in front. Courtney Cole then made two freethrows to give Switzerland County a 30-29 lead - but that would be the last lead that the Lady Pacers would have.

South Dearborn closed the quarter with a run of eight straight points; and after Morgan Ross scored for the Lady Pacers with 1:17 to go, neither team scored again and South Dearborn held a 37-32 lead.

The Lady Pacers would climb to within one as the final quarter got underway, getting baskets from Amber Smith and Courtney Cole; but Brooklyn Bovard answered those with a three-point play; and after Abby Schmahl and Brooklyn Bovard followed that with buckets, the South Dearborn lead was eight, 44-36.

Switzerland County got a basket from Courtney Cole and a freethrow from Megan McCarty to get back within five, but South Dearborn came right back with a run of five points of their own.

Morgan Ross’s basket and two freethrow narrowed the lead to six; and after South Dearborn made a freethrow, a basket by Courtney Cole drew Switzerland County to within five.

That’s when South Dearborn flexed its freethrow shooting muscle, converting six straight attempts at the critical stretch of the game to claim the tournament championship by a score of 56-47.

Amber Smith led Switzerland County with 16 points on the night; and Courtney Cole finished with 15. Morgan Ross had six points; Megan McCarty finished with four; and Maggie Armstrong, April Thieman, and Kristen Perry each added two points.

Courtney Cole and Amber Smith were both honored by being selected to the All Tournament team.

Ellie Smith, the tourney’s MVP, led South Dearborn with 20 points; while Abby Schmahl had 13 points and Brooklyn Bovard had 11.