Pacer junior Damian Breeck exploded for 30 points last Thursday night, pushing the Switzerland County Pacer basketball team past South Dearborn and into the championship game of the Rivertown Classic.
The game with the Knights was fast-paced and close throughout, as both teams attempted to break away from the other early in the contest.
Tied at 10-10 with just over four minutes left in the opener, South Dearborn went on a run, scoring nine straight points on a three-point play by Nate Pruitt, baskets by Alex Shackelford and Isaiah Jefferson, and two freethrows by Shackelford.
Coby Chase broke that run with a three-pointer for the Pacers; but Blaze Coffey ended the quarter scoring with a field goal that put South Dearborn in front after one period, 21-13.
Tristan Daily opened the second quarter for the Knights with a three-pointer that swelled the lead to 11; but that set up a Switzerland County run.
Tyler Konkle got free inside for a basket; and Breeck followed that with a three-pointer. Dalton Tingle hit a runner in the lane, and Breeck connected on another trey, and the 10-point run reduced the lead down to one with 5:13 to play.
Ethan Getz broke the run with a field goal for South Dearborn, and after Breeck hit a freethrow, Daily hit a bucket that made the lead four. Breeck halved that with two freethrows moments later; and after Chris Moeller hit a three-pointer; Tingle made a freethrow to keep the South Dearborn lead at four. Shackelford then made two freethrows; but Tingle answered that with a three-point play; and when Coffey closed the first half scoring, South Dearborn held a 35-20 lead at the midway point of the contest.
South Dearborn pushed its lead to eight as the second half got underway on a three-pointer by Getz; and after Zach Weaver scored for the Pacers, a basket by Moeller matched that — only to have that matched by a jumper from Landon Wilks.
The Knights then pushed the lead up to 12 on two freethrows by Shackelford, a basket by Pruitt and a field goal by Shackelford; and it looked as though the game might be getting out of hand.
But back came the Pacers.
Breeck’s jumper was followed by a three-pointer from Wilks and another basket by Breeck — and the lead and narrowed to six with 3:40 left in the third.
Shackelford scored again; but Tingle matched that; and after Shackelford converted a traditional three-point play, Tingle scored again to close the period with the Knights still holding a 51-46 advantage.
As the final stanza opened, it was time for the defining run of the game for the Pacers.
Down by five, Weaver scored inside to kick things off, and that was followed by two freethrows by Breeck, and another basket by Weaver — and with 6:20 to go, Switzerland County now held the lead, 52-51.
South Dearborn took it right back on a basket by Pruitt; but Breeck followed that with a three-pointer to put the Pacers back on top by two.
Getz converted a three-point play to give the Knights a one point advantage; and Breeck followed that with a freethrow that tied the game at 56-56 with 4:51 left.
The Pacers then made another run, as Coach Adam Dennis saw his squad get a basket by Konkle; a three-point play by Weaver; and a banked-in three-pointer by Wilks that gave Switzerland County a 64-56 lead with 3:35 to go.
Defense then took center stage, as both teams pushed the tempo to try and score quickly, but both defenses denied that.
With two minutes to go, Getz made a jumper to break the scoreless streak, but again Breeck answered, converting two clutch freethrows to keep the lead at eight.
Getz made a freethrow to cut the lead to seven; and then made another after a timeout to narrow it to six.
Chase made a freethrow for Switzerland County to make the advantage seven again; but Shackelford got free and hit a jumper while being fouled. His successful freethrow attempt cut the lead down to four with a minute to play.
It got closer moments later when Coffey scored, and the Pacers were clinging to a 67-65 advantage with 52-seconds left.
At the 29-second mark, a freethrow by Pruitt cut the lead down to just one — setting up an exciting finish.
With 19-seconds left, Tingle converted two freethrows for Switzerland County to make the lead three; but with 15-seconds remaining two freethrows by Daily again made the margin two.
Attempting to inbound the ball after the freethrows, the Pacers were hit with a five second call; giving possession back to the Knights — but the Pacer defense held, forcing a bad shot and getting the rebound.
South Dearborn fouled Breeck with four seconds to go, but it was too late, as he converted one of the two attempts and Switzerland County advanced to the championship game of the Rivertown Tournament with a 71-68 win.
Breeck was outstanding on both ends of the floor the entire game, finishing with 30 points on six field goals, three three-pointers, and going 9-for-12 from the freethrow line.
Tingle was in double figures with 12 points; Wilks and Weaver each finished with nine; Konkle had six; and Chase had five.
Shackelford led South Dearborn with 18 points; while Getz added 15.