Friday night’s varsity boys game between Switzerland County and Madison Shawe was truly a back and forth affair, with both teams taking turns trying to build a big lead before the other came storming back.
In the end, the Pacers rode some key baskets at critical moments in the fourth quarter to a 60-53 victory.
At center stage in Friday night’s game was Shawe’s Dida Ikongshul, a 6’6″ junior who is a native of Nigeria and is already being scouted by Division I college programs.
Containing the Hilltopper star would fall on a rotation of Pacer players, but primarily the responsibility came down to sophomore center Hunter Hayes, who battled and countered all night in an outstanding defensive effort that kept Dida Ikongshul below his scoring average and to just six points in the second half.
It was a high scoring affair in the first quarter, with Dida Ikongshul opening the scoring before Hunter Hayes and Kollin Hayes each scoring to give the Pacers an early lead.
After Zach Brooks scored for Shawe, Switzerland County got a three-pointer from Caleb Furnish and another jumper from Kollin Hayes to move out to a five point lead.
Shawe got a bucket from Kaelin Jines, but Ben Curran countered that with a runner down the baseline. Dida Ikongshul scored again; but Kollin Hayes hit another jumper and Riley Phagan hit a floater in the lane to move the lead out to seven with 1:53 to go.
Dida Ikongshul scored inside again; but Caleb Furnish hit another three-pointers, giving Switzerland County an 18-10 lead with 1:22 to go.
From there the Hilltoppers made a run, getting a freethrow from Zach Brooks and baskets from Kaelin Jines and Brad Koehler to close the quarter with the Pacers in front, 18-15.
Justin Green opened the second quarter with a basket in the lane; but Dida Ikongshul followed that with a bucket. Riley Phagan scored in the lane; but Dida Ikongshul scored again. Kollin Hayes hit a pair of freethrows; but the Hilltoppers got baskets from Grayson Rhoten and Dida Ikongshul to pull to within one, 24-23, with 3:50 to play before the half.
Justin Green hit a pair of freethrows; but Grayson Rhoten scored again.
The Pacers then went on another run, getting two straight buckets from Justin Green – including a nifty reverse layup – and a basket from Ben Curran to close the period with the Pacers in front at the half, 32-25.
Hunter Hayes opened the second half scoring with a basket; but Shawe got two straight baskets from Zach Brooks. Hunter Hayes scored again; and Dida Ikongshul made a freethrow. Hunter Hayes then scored for the third straight time to keep the lead at eight.
Zach Brooks scored for Shawe, and after Dakota Fuller scored for the Pacers; Shawe closed the third quarter with a run of five points on a three-point play by Brad Koehler and a bucket by Zach Brooks, and with the third quarter closed, the Pacers held a 40-37 advantage.
With fans one the edge of their seats, Switzerland County’s Ben Curran opened the final period with a basket; but when Brad Koehler hit a jumper and Grayson Rhoten hit two freethrows, suddenly the lead was down to one, 42-41.
Dakota Fuller hit a freethrow to make the lead two; but Zach Brooks got the Shawe fans excited when his three-pointer at the 5:30 mark to give the Hilltoppers a 44-43 lead.
It didn’t last long, as Dakota Fuller hit a huge three-pointer to give the Pacers a two-point lead; but Dida Ikongshul would then hit a three-pointer to push the Hilltoppers in front by one.
The back and forth continued.
Riley Phagan made two freethrows to give the Pacers a one point lead; but a basket by Whit Grote pushed the Hilltoppers back in front, 49-48 with 3:55 to go.
But after than the Pacer defense clamped down; and the Pacer offense did just enough to move out in front. Shawe would go over three minutes without scoring, as Switzerland County would scored 11 points over that same period.
The Pacers also continued to avoid shooting themselves in the foot, as Switzerland County was down right awful from the freethrow line as Shawe was forced to foul in an effort to get back in the game.
It nearly worked.
Ben Curran scored after a dash through the lane and Hunter Hayes followed that with a freethrow. Ben Curran then made one freethrow; and when his second attempt bounced free, the Pacers were able to maintain possession after a scramble for the ball.
After a Switzerland County timeout, Dakota Fuller made another jumper that extended the lead to five; and after Ben Curran scored again, it was time for a parade to the freethrow line.
Ben Curran made one attempt; and Riley Phagan made two freethrows.
Dida Ikongshul made two freethrows to stop the run; but then the Pacers had to worry through the final 30-seconds.
Ben Curran missed four straight freethrows, and Caleb Furnish made one of two attempts; but Shawe couldn’t mount any sort of offense to counter the misses, as a basket from Brad Koehler with eight seconds remaining was the final score.
At the buzzer, the Pacers won by a 60-53 count.
The game was truly a masterpiece of offensive scoring balance for Switzerland County, as seven Pacers scored at least seven points.
Ben Curran led the way with 12 points; while Hunter Hayes had nine.
Riley Phagan, Dakota Fuller, Kollin Hayes and Just Green all had eight points each; and Caleb Furnish had seven points.
It wasn’t, however, a masterpiece from the freethrow line, as Switzerland County finished the game just 13-for-29 from the stripe.
Dida Ikongshul led Madison Shawe with 18 points.
In the junior varsity game, which was played here on Thursday night, February 5th, Switzerland County defeated Shawe by a score of 52-43.
Dolan Springer had an outstanding game for the Pacers, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds, and two steals. Kyle Whitham had nine points and nine rebounds; and Austin South added five points, four rebounds.
Justin Chatham finished with five points and five rebounds; Zack Wainscott had four points and seven rebounds; Jacob Turner had three points; Andrew Youngblood had three points and two steals; and Casper Stow contributed two points and four rebounds.