Brennan Bragg’s career high 27 points fuels Pacers to win over South Ripley

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Coming off of an outstanding effort on Friday night against South Dearborn; the Switzerland County Pacer varsity basketball team came home to close out 2008 on Saturday night against rival South Ripley – and outlasted the Raiders by a 64-61 count.

“I think the thing that stands out in my mind is that when we had to make plays – either on offense or defense – we were able to do that,” Pacer coach Brian Bowen said. “Good teams are able to do that.”

The coach praised junior center Brennan Bragg for his outstanding game, finishing with 27 points and six rebounds. Brennan Bragg was 10-for-13 from the field in the contest, and was 7-for-10 from the freethrow line.

“Brennan had a really good game for us, and that was important,” the coach said. “He played within himself and made things very difficult for South Ripley defensively.”

Both teams jumped out to big opening periods offensively, with the Pacers moving out to a 19-14 advantage at the end of the first eight minutes of play. South Ripley then bounced back with a solid second quarter that saw the Raiders outscore the Pacers 14-8 to take a 28-27 lead at the half.

Coming out of the halftime break, both teams stayed hot offensively, and with the third stanza scoring tied at 14-14, that left one quarter of play to determine the victor.

The final quarter was a nail-biting, back and forth affair, with neither team able to pull out to a lead.

That set the stage for one of the biggest plays of the night.

With South Ripley leading 53-51, the Pacer defense came up big, stealing the ball and passing it ahead to Brennan Bragg, who laid the ball off of the backboard to tie the game.

But as the ball came off of the backboard, Raider center Thad Fleming slapped the backboard in an attempt to stop the shot.

The ball went in anyway, and the officials called a technical foul on Thad Fleming. That gave the Pacers two freethrows and possession of the basketball.

With the Brennan Bragg layup tying the game; senior Kyle Green then converted both freethrows; and when the Pacers inbounded the ball, it went inside to Brennan Bragg, who was fouled by Raider Jordan Bodenburg – his fifth.

When Brennan Bragg made both charities, the Pacers had gone from a two-point deficit to a four-point lead in a manner of seconds.

The series also seemed to take some of the wind out of the South Ripley sails – as the Pacers never trailed again in the game.

“The technical was a really big swing for us,” Coach Bowen said. “But making those freethrows was just as big. Freethrow shooting was a bright spot for us.”

The Pacer victory -as with the game on Friday night – was also big in that Switzerland County played without starting forward Clay Meyer. The senior suffered a bruised heart and bruised sternum after catching a knee in the chest in last week’s game against Rising Sun, and continues to be evaluated by doctors and coaches.

“Clay was able to go through non-contact drills with us on Monday,” Brian Bowen said. “I think that when we get back from our Christmas break, he’ll be able to go full speed and we’ll see how it goes from there, but I think he will be back for the tournaments.”

The tournaments that the Pacer mentor speaks of will tip off in Union County on Friday, January 2nd; before heading to the Rivertown Classic at South Dearborn on Thursday, January 8th.

On Friday night, Coach Bowen said that senior Mark Sharp also played an outstanding game; as did junior Travis Tackett.

“Mark had eight points, 10 assists, and four steals, all of which were big for us,” Coach Bowen said. “He had a really good floor game.”

Travis Tackett, hobbled by an injured ankle, finished with six points on two three-pointers – but the Pacer coach said that both treys came at key times in the contest.

“Both of Travis’ threes were huge and came at critical times,” the coach said. “Those were his only points, but they were big.”

Along with Brennan Bragg’s career-high 27 points, senior Kyle Green was in double figures, finishing with 18 points. Along with contributions from Mark Sharp and Travis Tackett, Alec McAlpine finished with three points; and Noah Hughes contributed two points.

The Pacers now set their sights on the Union County Holiday Tournament, where they will play Horizon Christian on Friday, January 2nd, at 2 p.m.

“We really don’t know a lot about Horizon Christian other than they are 8-1 and are averaging about 70 points per game, so we’re taking the game very seriously,” Coach Bowen said. “When we get through that game then we’ll play the winner of Union County and Fall Creek Academy in the second game on Friday.”

Looming on the other side of the bracket is Guerin Catholic, where the Golden Eagles were ranked in the top 10 in Class 2A in the state before falling to Lapel last Friday night.

Heading into the two tournaments, the Pacer coach is happy with his 6-1 charges, but sees a team that is improving everyday.

“I think we’re happy with where we’re at,” Brian Bowen said. “I’m pretty happy that we came out of this weekend with two wins with Clay out and Travis hurt. I definitely don’t think the South Ripley game was our prettiest game or our best game of the year, but it was nice to see our guys in crucial situations be able to make plays.”

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The Pacer jayvee team defeated South Ripley on Saturday night by a score of 31-29 after a heart-stopping finish.

As time ran out and the game appearing to be heading to overtime, Pacer Tray Meyer missed a shot, but grabbed his own rebound and put the ball back toward the basket.

As the buzzer sounded, the ball bounced around and then fell through the hoop, giving the Pacers the two-point win.

Tray Meyer led the Pacers with 14 points on the night, and he also contributed seven points and two steals. Keegan Kincaid added four points and two rebounds; Josh Hon had four points and two rebounds; and Blake Whitham had three points and three boards.

Kendall Otter finished with two points; Adam Clark had two rebounds and four rebounds; Danny Schira had two points and five rebounds; and Tanner Ross contributed two rebounds.

The win pushes the junior varsity record to 6-1 overall. The jayvee is now off until they travel to Hanover on January 16th to take on the Southwestern Rebels.