Ashley Bright’s 19 points leads Lady Pacers into Sectional final with win over Lawrenceburg

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Coming into last Friday night’s semifinal game of the Milan Class 2A Sectional, Switzerland County Lady Pacer coach Wayne Ellegood and his assistants made sure that their team did not overlook the Lawrenceburg Lady Tigers – the Lady Pacers’ opponent on Friday.

Lawrenceburg came into the tournament in disarray, having fired head coach Nick Scalf with two regular season games remaining. Taking over the helm of the Lady Tigers was Abby Carrigan Friend – a former player at Rising Sun and well known to Lady Pacer fans.

“It was difficult to prepare for them, because we didn’t know if they would change much. We knew that they had pretty good kids, though,” Coach Ellegood said. “Abby comes from a family that has a good background in basketball, and she had her team very well prepared to play us; but it’s hard to fool people at this point in the season.”

With Lawrenceburg sporting only three regular season wins, the Lady Pacers moving on to Saturday night’s championship game seemed assured – but one of those three wins came over Switzerland County in the Rivertown Classic Tournament, and the coaching staff knew that Lawrenceburg would have nothing to lose in the sectional.

In the end Switzerland County got through some rough spots offensively and bounced back to claim a 51-44 victory.

The Lady Tigers raced out of the gate as the game got underway, patiently wading through the Switzerland County pressure defense to hit some timely baskets and withstand the initial rush of emotion.

By the end of the first quarter, Lawrenceburg held an 18-14 advantage, and Switzerland County fans were getting a little restless.

If the first eight minutes scared the Switzerland County faithful, the first part of the second period was downright horrifying. Lawrenceburg moved its lead out to eight points at about the midway point of the quarter, and Switzerland County couldn’t seem to mount any type of offensive charge to get close and then move ahead.

That finally happened during the final four minutes of the first half, as Lawrenceburg shots failed to find the range that they had earlier in the game, and Switzerland County began to pick up the offensive pace and deliver on the defensive pressure.

“We got in foul trouble early and that helped us get down by eight,” Wayne Ellegood said. “Our kids really fought back and played well at the end of the first half and all through the second half. I was really proud of how hard our kids played.”

The second quarter saw the Lady Pacers outscore Lawrenceburg 15-7, which pushed Switzerland County out to a 29-25 lead at the break.

From there, it was no looking back for the Lady Pacers.

Although Lawrenceburg kept the scoring close, Switzerland County never trailed again after halftime, methodically moving the ball around while waiting on high percentage shots. The Lady Pacers outscored the Lady Tigers in both quarters, and Coach Ellegood credited freethrow shooting with solidifying the win.

“We were able to make some key freethrows at the end of the game and put it away, and that’s always big,” the Lady Pacer mentor said. “Courtney Cole and Ashley Bright both made some big freethrows for us at the end of the game, and those were key for our win.”

As a team Switzerland County was 11-for-17 at the freethrow line for the game; while Lawrenceburg was 13-for-21 at the line.

The big difference came from the field, where Switzerland County shot just over 45-percent for the contest; while Lawrenceburg stumbled to just 26-percent.

Senior Ashley Bright had an outstanding game, leading all scorers with 19 points. She also had three assists on the night. Amber Smith was also in double figures with 10 points, and she also contributed a team-high five rebounds.

The trio of Tanya Sefton, Courtney Cole, and Morgan Ross had six points each; while Tanya Sefton handed out three assists. April Thieman had another outstanding all-around game, contributing four points, pulling down four rebounds; and handing out an assist.

Lawrenceburg was led by Chelsie Mollaun with 14 points; and Emily Rennekamp finished with eight.

The win moved the Lady Pacer overall record to 11-10, meaning that they were guaranteed to finish the season with a non-losing record; and it also moved them into Saturday’s Sectional Championship game against Southwestern, who defeated South Ripley in the first of Friday’s two semifinals.