After trailing by double figures for nearly the entire game, the Switzerland County boys varsity basketball team mounted a furious fourth quarter rally on Tuesday night at home against South Decatur; but in the end the Cougars were able to hit key freethrows and pull away for a 78-68 victory.
Trailing by 20 points — 57-37 — at the end of the third quarter, the Pacers went on a torrid offensive run over the final eight minutes. Switzerland County used a lock down pressure defense and some key outside shooting to post 31 points in the quarter, by far the Pacers’ highest point output for a period this year. South Decatur, however, managed to score 21 over the same time frame — 13 at the freethrow line — to hang on for the win.
With 1:32 left, Switzerland County had narrowed the gap down to six, 67-61, but couldn’t get any closer, as the Cougars sealed the win from the freethrow line as the Pacers were forced to foul.
As exciting as the final quarter was, the first three periods saw a Switzerland County team that couldn’t keep up with the white-hot shooting of South Decatur, who just didn’t seem to miss at times.
In the first period, Switzerland County was outscored 19-12, riding the hot outside shooting of Damian Breeck, who had a pair of three-pointers in the stanza; and field goals from Coby Chase and Dalton Tingle. Patrick Stow and Tyler Konkle each contributed a freethrow in the quarter.
The Cougars got seven points from Wyatt Gatewood in the opening period; while Lane Lauderbaugh and Cody Diekhoff each added four.
The second period was a killer for the Pacers, and an outstanding one for the Cougars, as Switzerland County was outscored 27-8 in the stretch, falling behind 46-20 at halftime.
Breeck continued his steady play with four points in the second; while Stow added three points on a field goal and a freethrow; and Tingle chipped in a freethrow.
The South Decatur offense came from dozens of different directions, as Lauderbaugh had 10 points, mainly on freethrows; while Hunter Johnson had five points on a three-pointer and a field goal; and the Cougars got three-pointers from Gatewood, Zach Luttel, and Kyle Tetrick.
Trying to steady themselves coming out of the halftime break, the Pacers began to dig themselves out of their deficit in the third quarter, outscoring South Decatur by a 17-11 margin — getting them within 20 points as the period ended.
Tingle had six points on three field goals to lead the balanced offense; while Landon Wilks began to heat up from the floor, connecting on a three-pointer and a field goal for five points. Breeck again added four points to the effort, while Konkle had a basket.
Spotty freethrow shooting didn’t help the Switzerland County efforts in the quarter, as the Pacers were 0-for-5 from the charity stripe.
Down by 20 with eight minutes to play, that’s when Coach Adam Dennis’s troops showed that they weren’t ever going to give up. The Pacer defense clamped down on the Cougars, creating turnovers that led to buckets to cut the lead.
Breeck led the onslaught with 11 points in the fourth, including three field goals, a three-pointer and a couple of freethrows; while Tingle proved that he’s going to be a key part of this squad going forward, accounting for nine points on a three-pointer a pair of field goals and two freethrows.
Wilks had a field goal and a three-pointer for five points; Konkle combined a field goal and two freethrows for four points; and Chase added another bucket.
As energized as Switzerland County was, once the Pacers were forced to foul in an effort to regain possession, South Decatur hit the crucial freethrows that it needed to make in order to hold off the charge.
The final margin of victory was 10 points —78-68 — and sends the winless Pacers into a Ruler of the River showdown tomorrow (Friday) night at Rising Sun.
Breeck finished with 25 points in the contest to lead Switzerland County; while Tingle had 18. Wilks made it three in double figures, as he added 10.
Konkle had seven points; and Chase and Stow each had four.
South Decatur had four players in double figures, led by Lauderbaugh with 22. Gatewood had 18; Tyler Sporleder had a quiet 14 (12 of those in the fourth quarter, including 10 from the freethrow line); and Johnson had 12.
Freethrow shooting continued to shoot the Pacers in the foot offensively, as Switzerland County was just 10-for-22 in the game.
In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County fell by a score of 59-43.
Nate Geyman was the leading scorer for the Pacers with 14 points; while Austin Bosaw finished with 13 points.
Damion Courter added six points; Ben Hicks had four points; Carter Baldwin had three; and Cole Riley also had three points.