South Ripley’s state-ranked girls basketball team held its Senior Night festivities last Thursday night, but in the end it would be a Switzerland County senior who would light up the high school gym and fuel the Lady Pacers to a 52-51 overtime victory.
Senior Jaclyn Ranz scored a game-high 22 points, including six three-pointers, to lead Switzerland County on the night — but it may have been her defense that also made a big contribution to the victory.
Guarding South Ripley sharpshooter Kristen Huss — who was coming off a 28-point effort against Batesville; Jaclyn Ranz and the rest of the Switzerland County defense held the guard scoreless for the contest; allowing more attention to be paid to the Lady Raider inside game, which also got shut down in the final quarter and in overtime.
Playing in the cramped and crowded physical education facility at South Ripley High School, the Lady Pacers came out determined to take the noisy Lady Raider crowd out of the game early— and that’s just what they did.
South Ripley’s All-State candidate Julie Lipperd got off to a fast start, converting two freethrows with the game just barely underway to give the hosts an early lead. Switzerland County answered that with a freethrow from Holly Jackson and a three-pointer from Jaclyn Ranz to take the lead; but South Ripley’s Beth Thieman scored with 6:20 to play to tie the game.
Ashley Bright then drilled a three-pointer from the top of the circle to reclaim the lead for Switzerland County; and Julie Lipperd followed that with an inside basket to close the gap to one. The Lady Pacer defensive effort was hampered with the early foul trouble of senior center Brittany Cole, but Natalie Daugherty and Kodi Driver came off the bench at critical times to help keep the game close.
Nearly three minutes into the contest, Switzerland County all-everything junior Ashley Chase had yet to be heard from — but that quickly changed.
Overcoming South Ripley defenses designed to stop her, Ashley Chase moved outside and connected on a three-pointer to push the Lady Pacers out to a four point lead; and on the next possession when South Ripley came outside to stop her, she shredded through the lane for two more points that made the score 12-6 in favor of the Lady Pacers.
South Ripley isn’t ranked among the state’s best on a fluke, and the Lady Raiders bounced back with a run of five straight points on three freethrows by Julie Lipperd and a basket by Ciara McGuire. After Holly Jackson scored for Switzerland County to stop that run; South Ripley got the final four points of the quarter on two more freethrows by Julie Lipperd and an inside basket by the senior center to grab a 15-14 lead at the first break.
Two Jaclyn Ranz freethrows opened the second period and also see-sawed the lead back in favor of Switzerland County; but Erin Collier followed that with two freethrows to push South Ripley back in front. Jaclyn Ranz then connected on a runner through the lane, and with seven minutes to play in the half Switzerland County was back in front, 18-17.
South Ripley then went on an offensive run, getting a rebound basket from Julie Lipperd; a freethrow by Abbey Lemon; a basket by Ciara McGuire; and two freethrow by Julie Lipperd to make the score 24-18.
Switzerland County, meanwhile, was in the midst of a stretch of more than three minutes without a point — that streak coming to an end when Holly Jackson scored inside with 3:38 to play to cut into the lead. The Lady Pacers then made a defensive stand, and moments later Jaclyn Ranz drilled another three-pointer. Two Ashley Bright freethrows at the 1:12 mark pushed Switzerland County back into the lead.
South Ripley responded, getting a basket by Ciara McGuire and a three-pointer from Beth Thieman to jump back in front 29-25 as the first half wound down.
Lady Pacer Ashley Bright tried to get off a halfcourt shot as the second quarter buzzer sounded and was knocked to the floor by a South Ripley defender, but no call was made and the Lady Pacers went to the halftime break down by four points.
Four quickly became 10, as South Ripley’s Erin Collier and Beth Thieman made back-to-back three-pointers to open the third period. Ashley Chase got free in the lane to stop that run; but Julie Lipperd answered on the other end to keep the lead at double figures.
Ashley Chase then scored again, and after Kristen Huss was forced to the bench with her fourth foul at the 4:20 mark, Ashley Chase again raced through the middle — connecting to slice the lead to just six.
South Ripley then went back inside to Julie Lipperd, who scored and was fouled — but then suffered a rare miss at the freethrow line. Switzerland County grabbed the rebound, and after some smooth ball movement around the perimeter, Jaclyn Ranz drained another three-pointer that brought the Lady Pacer faithful to their feet.
Another defensive stop led to an Ashley Bright runner in the lane; and with two minutes to play Switzerland County had cut the lead to three.
Julie Lipperd then got loose inside again for a basket, but Switzerland County finished off the third quarter with a three-pointer by Jaclyn Ranz and a basket by Ashley Chase.
With a quarter to play, the game was tied at 41-41.
South Ripley’s Ashley Thomas opened the fourth quarter scoring with a basket; but Brittany Cole matched that with a nifty inside move.
The Lady Raiders got a big spark offensively when Erin Collier connected on a three-pointer; and after Ashley Chase made a freethrow; Erin Collier connected again from three-point range to give South Ripley a five-point lead.
Ashley Chase then scored again to narrow the lead to three, and with 4:37 to play, Lady Raider coach Bill Snyder decided to slow the game down.
Playing a methodical, stall-type offense, the Lady Raiders looked to wipe time off of the clock while holding a three-point lead. It worked for a bit, but South Ripley got caught on a violation, giving the ball back to the Lady Pacers.
At the 3:14 mark, Jaclyn Ranz’s fifth three-pointer of the game rained down, tying the game and forcing South Ripley to score again.
Switzerland County made another defensive stand, and with 2:23 to play in regulation, Lady Pacer coach Wayne Ellegood called a timeout.
This time it was Switzerland County’s turn to hold the ball, playing keep away from the Lady Raider defenders as the clock wound down toward zero. South Ripley forced a held ball with 1:39 to play, but the Lady Pacers retained possession on the alternating possession arrow.
With 51-seconds to play, the ball swung around to junior Kodi Driver, whose baseline jumper bounced long. Holly Jackson grabbed the offensive rebound, but the senior forward was whistled for travel in the midst of a scrum for possession of the ball.
South Ripley went on offense, but Kodi Driver made a fantastic steal that gave Switzerland County one last chance. That’s when things got confusing.
Playing in the physical education gym, there is only one scoreboard, which is above halfcourt facing the stands, which are on one side of the court. The design makes it difficult for both teams to get a clear look at the clock — and with less than 30-seconds to play, that clock would play a critical role.
Jaclyn Ranz brought the ball up for Switzerland County, and as she crossed halfcourt she glanced at the scoreboard. A burned out light bulb gave Jaclyn Ranz the impression that Switzerland County was leading by a score of 49-48 when the game was actually tied at 49-49.
The senior guard simply stepped across halfcourt and waited to be fouled, but South Ripley didn’t come after the ball. By the time the Lady Pacer offense realized the problem, it was too late, and the game headed to a four minute overtime period.
Switzerland County got possession of the basketball on the overtime tip, and the Lady Pacers went back to the plan of holding the ball and running the clock. The South Ripley defense kept the pressure up, and with 2:50 to play guard Ashley Bright got called on a five-second violation — giving the ball over to the Lady Raiders.
South Ripley moved to claim the lead, and Erin Collier got free and connected on a jumper to sent the Lady Raider fans into a frenzy.
Switzerland County moved back on offense — and naturally the ball found its way into the hands of Jaclyn Ranz, who rose from deep in the corner to connect on her sixth three-pointer of the game, giving the Lady Pacers a 52-51 lead.
At that point the scoring was over — but the drama wasn’t.
The Lady Pacers made another defensive stand and claimed possession of the ball — but South Ripley still had not been called for enough fouls to put Switzerland County at the freethrow line. The Lady Raider defense caught Ashley Bright with the ball and pounced on the ball, giving possession back to South Ripley.
Again the Lady Raiders tried to go inside, and again the Switzerland County defense rose to the challenge. Beth Thieman missed a jump shot as time ran out, and a Julie Lipperd rebound and putback also came up empty as the horn sounded and Switzerland County claimed the win.
Jaclyn Ranz led all scorers with 22 points; and Ashley Chase finished with 16 to maintain her scoring average. Ashley Bright added seven points; Holly Jackson had five; and Brittany Cole finished with two.
Julie Lipperd led South Ripley with 21 points — but only six of those came after halftime and nine came from the freethrow line. Erin Collier finished in double figures with 13.
In the junior varsity contest, it was Switzerland County coming away with a 25-20 victory.
Tanya Sefton led the Lady Pacers with six points; while Courtney Cole finished with five. Megan McCarty, April Thieman, and Amber Smith all finished with four each; and Amanda Hon contributed two.