One of the tough questions that coaches and teams who are opposing the Switzerland County Pacer varsity boys basketball team is – what part of the game do you try and stop?
Do you work to shut down the inside game, where skyscrapers Austin Clark, Alex Curran, and T.J. White roam; but leave the outside vulnerable, who sharpshooters Chase Ritch and Braden Burk reside?
Do you try and cover both, and stand by helplessly as Trevor Smith slices through the lane for easy buckets?
On Saturday night, those were the questions that the South Ripley Raiders were asking as they tried to solve the Pacer puzzle – and by the end of the game, all of those elements contributed to a big, 56-36 win for Switzerland County.
The game began inside, where Alex Curran converted for the Pacers to grab an early lead. South Ripley’s Austin Halcomb followed that with a basket to tie the game – and 2-2 would be the closest the Raiders would get to a lead.
The Pacers got a freethrow from Austin Clark, then baskets from Braden Burk and Austin Clark to make the score 7-2. South Ripley’s Trey Sparks scored to stop that run, but again Switzerland County went inside to Austin Clark, and when the Pacer big man scored again, the quarter ended with a 9-4 lead in favor of the Pacers.
If the offense sputtered a bit in the opening stanza, it sure hit full stride in the second period, as the Pacers opened with a three-pointer from Chase Ritch on the outside, followed by an inside bucket from Austin Clark on an outstanding pass from Braden Burk. Trey Sparks stopped the run with a jumper; but Braden Burk answered that with a jumper from the baseline.
After Trey Sparks converted a pair of freethrows, the Pacers went back to work, with Trevor Smith exploding down the lane for a layup, and moments later Clint Swanson doing the exact same thing as the Raiders had no answer for the Switzerland County quickness.
Again Trey Sparks stopped the run, this time with a three-pointer, but it was merely a blip on the screen, as the Pacers got a pair of freethrows and a basket from Trevor Smith and an inside bucket from T.J. White to make the score 26-11 with 2:47 to play.
Trey Sparks scored again – he would have 13 of South Ripley’s 15 points in the first half – but Austin Clark scored again inside and Trevor Smith darted down the baseline for two more; and after Trey Sparks scored again, the first half ended with Switzerland County comfortably ahead, 30-15.
Switzerland County’s offense opened things up again in the third quarter, scoring eight straight points on baskets by Braden Burk, T.J. White, Trevor Smith and Clint Swanson, and with 4:21 to play in the quarter, the Pacer lead ballooned to 38-15.
South Ripley responded, getting baskets from Joe Dicken and Logan Linkmeyer in front of a three-point play by Trey Sparks – but that only cut the lead to 15.
Switzerland County closed the quarter with baskets inside by Austin Clark and T.J. White, and with a period to play, the Pacers were in control, 42-22.
The Raiders then opened the final stanza with a run, getting six straight points on a basket by Trey Sparks and two buckets from Cody Freemann; but after Pacer coach B.J. McAlister called a timeout to steady his troops, baskets from Austin Clark and Braden Burk and a freethrow from Trevor Smith righted the Pacer ship.
Austin Halcomb made a freethrow for the Raiders; Alex Curran countered that with a pair of charities for the Pacers; and after Jacob Mullins scored for the Raiders; Austin Clark again broke free inside for two more. South Ripley then got a basket from Trey Sparks and a three-pointer from Austin Grider; but the Pacers closed the game with a pair of freethrows by Chase Ritch and a three-point play by Alex Curran – making the final margin of victory 20 points, 56-36.
Austin Clark led Switzerland County’s attack with 15 points; while Trevor Smith had an outstanding all-around game, finishing with 11 points. Braden Burk had eight points; Alex Curran had seven; T.J. White finished with six points; and Clint Swanson contributed four.
Trey Sparks led South Ripley with 20 points.
The Pacers, now standing with a record of 5-1 on the year, host Christian Academy tomorrow (Friday) night and then travel to Elizabeth, Indiana, to play South Central on Saturday night before wrapping the first half of the season for the holidays.
In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County fell to South Ripley by a score of 37-33.
Riley Phagan led the Pacers with 12 points; while Ben Curran added nine points and eight rebounds to the effort. Tristen Bolton had six points and four rebounds; Nathan Hunter had four points and eight rebounds; and Justus Powell had two points and a pair of boards.