Coach praises defense as Pacers smash Knights, 62-47

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The Switzerland County Pacers got their offensive machine back on track last Friday night after suffering its first loss of the season the week before – but it was his team’s defense that had Coach Brian Bowen talking following a 62-47 victory over South Dearborn.

“I thought we probably did as good a job as we have all year executing our game plan defensively,” Coach Bowen said. “We made it very hard for them to score and run their offense. I was very pleased with our defense.”

The Pacers fell to Rising Sun last Friday night, and in the process lost a starter to injury while another starter was hobbled with a bad ankle in practice this week.

Senior Clay Meyer suffered a bruised heart and bruised sternum in the Shiner game; while junior Travis Tackett suffered an injury to his ankle in practice, but did play in the South Dearborn game. Clay Meyer was unable to play on Friday against South Dearborn, but the coaching staff hopes that he will be cleared to play for the upcoming holiday tournaments.

Those injuries meant that the depth of the Pacer team needed to come to the forefront against the Class 3A Knights.

“We talked with the guys before the game about dealing with adversity,” Coach Bowen said. “We had Clay out and Tackett’s ankle and some of the guys have been sick; and we needed some guys to step up and help us – and they did.”

Sticking with his defensive theme, the coach had some praise for junior guard Noah Hughes, who drew the assignment of defending Knight sharpshooter Joel Scudder.

“I thought Noah did a great job defensively on Scudder,” Coach Bowen said. “And he also had eight points. I thought Noah had an outstanding game.”

The Knight guard finished with only eight points.

But if defense was the key on Friday night, it also sparked a big night offensively for the high-powered Pacers, as the squad was led by seniors Kyle Green and Mark Sharp.

“Offensively, Kyle had a really good game,” Coach Bowen said. “He had 23 points, but what really makes me happy was that it was an efficient 23 points. He was 9-for-14 from the field, so when he took shots, most of the time they went in. That really helps our overall play. He was also 4-for-5 from the freethrow line, so it was a good night shooting for Kyle.”

Mark Sharp took advantage of the giving mood of the holiday season.

“Mark finished with 14 points, but the important thing was that he was 10-for-10 from the freethrow line,” the coach said. “When South Dearborn fouled him, he really made them pay, and those were important points.”

Overall, the Pacer freethrow shooting – which has been suspect at times through the first portion of the season -excelled on Friday night.

“I think a real bright spot for us as a team was at the freethrow line,” Brian Bowen said. “We were 22-for-26 as a team from the line, and that’s something that we’ve struggled with at times. I was proud of how we worked hard and got better.”

On Friday night, the Pacers used a hot first half to put the Knights away, leading 14-10 after the first period before exploding for a 17-8 advantage in the second quarter to take a 31-18 advantage into the halftime break.

The second half was more closely played, as South Dearborn won the third stanza by an 11-9 count before the Pacers bounced back to outscore their hosts in the final period, 22-18.

Along with his 23 points, Kyle Green also contributed five rebounds to the Pacer cause; and Mark Sharp added four rebounds and four assists to his 14 points.

Travis Tackett battled through his ankle injury to contribute nine points, including a three-pointer; and Noah Hughes – starting in place of Clay Meyer – finished with eight points.

Brennan Bragg, Alec McAlpine, Tray Meyer and Danny Schira each had two points apiece to complete the scoring.

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The Pacer junior varsity squad also picked up a win on Friday night, pulling off the 44-41 victory.

Tray Meyer led Switzerland County with 13 points, and also contributed five rebounds and two steals. Blake Whitham was also in double figures, finishing with 12 points, including 3-for-4 from the freethrow line. He also had three rebounds.

Keegan Kincaid had eight points, seven rebounds, and four assists; Kendall Otter had five points; Adam Clark added four points; and Zach O’Neal chipped in two points.