With 12 seconds to go in Thursday night’s regular season finale at Madison, Switzerland County found itself tied at 50-50, and had to go the length of the floor to avoid overtime.
Senior Kollin Hayes triggered the inbound, and the ball came right back to him.
From there, he raced to the other end, converting a layup as the clock slipped away; and after a desperation heave didn’t find the range, the Pacers escaped with a 52-50 victory.
The win closed a successful regular season that saw Switzerland County finish with a 14-8 overall record, earn the championship of the Ohio River Valley Conference, and head into this week’s Sectional tournament on a high note.
But it didn’t start so well.
The game got off to a slow start, as both teams looked to establish their style of play. Madison ended up closing the quarter with a 12-10 lead; but Switzerland County’s Dakota Fuller again got off to a hot start, connecting on two three-pointers in the period. Kollin Hayes and Justin Green also had baskets.
Madison was led early by Cooper Yancey, who had six points; while Daniel Anderson, Mason Welsh, and Ian Strouse also had baskets.
The Cubs attempted to pull away in the second stanza, outscoring the Pacers by a 14-8 count to take a 26-18 lead into the halftime break.
In the second Switzerland County got baskets from Casper Stow, Hunter Hayes, and Green; while Austin South chipped in two freethrows.
Welsh did the damage for the Cubs in the second, accounting for 10 points to two three-pointers and two field goals.
Switzerland County then bounced back in the third, but it wasn’t without a stressful moment.
With the Pacer offense rolling, coming back to take a 33-32 lead with 2:05 to go in the quarter, Hunter Hayes got tangled up on the defensive end. The senior laid face down on the floor for several minutes before being helped to the bench with an ankle issue, and did not return to the contest.
Playing without one of their “twin towers”, Coach Adam Dennis went to the other half of his inside combo.
Switzerland County spent much of the second half pouring the ball inside to Green, and the senior responded with 13 points in the half, including six in the third, proving unstoppable near the bucket.
Fuller also had a big third quarter, scoring five points; while Kollin Hayes added four and Stow and South had two each.
That run gave the Pacers a 19-9 advantage in the third, and sent the game to a final eight minutes with Switzerland County in front, 37-35.
The fourth quarter was one of the most exciting of the season, as each team would score 15 points; but it all came down to the closing moments.
With 1:08 to play Madison jumped back in front by a score of 46-45; but again the Pacers poured the ball down low to Green, and his inside bucket with 55 seconds to go retook the lead, 47-46.
Switzerland County’s defense stepped up moments later, when Madison’s Strouse was whistled with an offensive foul with 53 seconds remaining.
With possession and less than 55 seconds to play, the Pacers looked to run the clock out; but Kyle Whitham got loose inside with 40 seconds to go, and his layup pushed the Pacers in front by three, 49-46.
Madison again couldn’t convert and fouled Kollin Hayes with 23 seconds remaining, sending the guard to the freethrow line. His first attempt hit the mark, extending the lead to 50-46; but the second bounced off, and the Cubs raced down the floor.
Anderson then scored for Madison with just 16 seconds left; and the Cubs set up a full court defense in an attempt to make the steal.
It worked, as Switzerland County threw the inbounds pass away, giving possession back to Madison, down by two.
The Cubs went inside to Strouse, and his turn around over tough defense played by Whitham tied the game at 50-50 with 12 seconds to go – setting up Kollin Hayes’ dash to victory.
The final score read Switzerland County 52, Madison 50, but as the two squads exchanged handshakes following the game, both teams knew that they had put their best effort on the floor.
Green, who dominated the inside play all night, led Switzerland County with 17 points; while Fuller and Kollin Hayes each were in double figures, scoring 11 points apiece.
Stow finished with five; South had four; and Whitham and Hunter Hayes each had two.
In addition to the scoring, Green also had 14 rebounds; and Stow also had six rebounds and three assists.
Welsh, just a freshman, led all scorers with 18 points; and Yancey was also in double figures, scoring 12 points.
Overall, Switzerland County was 20-of-47 on field goals for 42.6-percent; and was 2-for-8 from three-point range for 25-percent. At the freethrow line, the Paces were an impressive 10-for-14 for 71.4-percent.
In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County earned a 50-43 win to close its season with a 13-9 record.
Dalton Tingle was the leading scorer for the Pacers on Thursday night with 13 points; while Kenyon Bledsoe broke into double figures with 10.
Zach Weaver had nine points; Cade Rider contributed seven points; Damian Breeck had six; Landon Wilks had three; and Justin Chatham chipped in two.