Austin Clark, Clint Swanson power Pacers past Southwestern, 74-61

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Switzerland County opened the second half of its season on the road last Friday night, traveling to Southwestern for a conference game with the Rebels. The Pacers won the first match up between the two squads earlier in the year, but ORVC rules state that the second game is the official conference game if teams play more than once in the regular season – so Friday night’s game was an important one for both teams.

It was a tight game throughout, with the Pacers pulling away to a comfortable lead in the second half before the Rebels roared back late to make it close; but junior Austin Clark and senior Clint Swanson both scored in double figures to ease away late and make the final score 74-61 in favor of the Pacers.

Switzerland County got rolling early, with Bob Tressler and Trevor Smith scoring buckets to give the Pacers an early 4-0 lead; but the Rebels responded with two baskets of their own; and after Braden Burk hit a short jumper, a bucket by Mackenzy Witherd tied the game at 6-6.

Switzerland County then went on a 7-2 run on three baskets by Austin Clark and a freethrow by Clint Swanson, and a big hustle play by T.J. White led to an important steal on the defensive end.

Southwestern bounced back with a basket and a pair of freethrows; but Trevor Smith knifed inside for a basket and Austin Clark powered his way for two more, and with 1:21 to go in a wild opening quarter, the Pacers led by a 17-12 mark.

Southwestern would score in the final minute, but a layup by Clint Swanson at the buzzer made the score 19-14 after one period.

Austin Clark opened the second quarter with a basket; but that was matched by Southwestern’s Gunnar Henry. T.J. White scored inside, but Mackenzy Witherd converted a pair of freethrows to keep things close. Braden Burk then got hot, scoring three straight baskets and a freethrow, but Southwestern kept bouncing back, getting two baskets and a pair of charities to stay within six.

Ben Curran played some critical minutes in relief during the second quarter, spelling some varsity players who suffered from foul trouble, and the sophomore responded with some outstanding play, including a rebound basket at the 1:09 mark that again made the lead eight. Chase Ritch followed that with a three-pointer, and Switzerland County had some breathing room.

A pair of freethrows by Darius Whitson-Spegal drew Southwestern back to within nine, but at the half the Pacers led by a 35-26 count.

The third quarter saw the Pacers jump out early, getting two more baskets from Austin Clark and a bucket from Clint Swanson to swell the lead to 15 points; and after Gunnar Henry scored for Southwestern to break that run, T.J. White scored again inside for Switzerland County . Gunnar Henry then made a pair of freethrows, but Bob Tressler answered those with a rebound basket inside, and after Trevor Smith hit a floater in the lane, Switzerland County saw its lead grow to 17 points.

Southwestern got a bucket to stop the run, but T.J. White again converted a short jumper; and after the Rebels scored again, Austin Clark took over in the lane to squash any chance of a Rebel uprising.

Camden Bentley scored for Southwestern, but Chase Ritch answered that with a three-pointer; and the teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter.

After three periods, the Pacers led by a 56-41 count.

Mackenzy Witherd opened the final stanza with a basket for the Rebels, but again Austin Clark would not allow the Pacers to suffer an offensive letdown, and his basket preceded another three-pointer from Chase Ritch, and the lead stood at 18.

It didn’t last long.

Southwestern found its shooting touch, getting a three-pointer from Gunnar Henry. After Clint Swanson score, Gunnar Henry made another three-pointer. T. J. White scored inside for Switzerland County, but the Rebels got their third straight three-pointer, and after Mackenzy Witherd made a pair of freethrows and Justin Hadley hit Southwestern’s fourth three-pointer of the quarter, with 2:47 to play the Pacers found themselves defending a seven-point lead, 65-58.

Clint Swanson stopped that streak with another basket on a runner down the baseline; but Gunnar Henry scored again to keep things interesting. Trevor Smith broke to the bucket and scored; and after a Southwestern freethrow, the Pacers would close out the game with a basket by Clint Swanson and a three-point play by Alex Curran that made the final score 74-61 in favor of the Pacers.

Austin Clark led all scorers with 18 points and Clint Swanson made it two in double figures, as 10 of his 13 points came in the critical second half.

The offense overall was spread around, as nine different Pacers scored in the contest. Chase Ritch and Braden Burk each finished with nine points; T.J. White and Trevor Smith each accounted for eight points; Bob Tressler had four; Alex Curran added three; and Ben Curran finished with two points.

Gunnar Henry led the Rebels with 16 points; while Darius Whitson-Spegal had 13 and Mackenzy Witherd finished with 11.

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In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County defeated Southwestern by a score of 44-32.

Riley Phagan had an outstanding game, finishing with 20 points; and Nathan Hunter was also in double figures, adding 12.

Ben Curran had six points in the contest; Zack Whitaker had four points; and Justus Powell chipped in two.