It was a battle featuring two state-ranked teams Tuesday night in the Switzerland County gym, as Class 1A #2 Jac-Cen-Del came calling on the Class 2A #14 Lady Pacers.
Like a classic prize fight, both teams traded offensive runs and defensive stops all night long, and at the end of four strong quarters, the Lady Eagles made some key freethrows and escaped with a 64-59 win.
Jac-Cen-Del got things started with freshman Lilly Simon hitting a jumper, but Switzerland County countered with a run of four points on a basket by Eve Galbreath and a pair of freethrows from Makenzie Mathews. Kelsey Bowling then made two freethrows for the Lady Eagles to tie the game; but Brooke Todd drilled a three-pointer and Eve Galbreath converted a layup off of a fast break, and Switzerland County had pushed its early lead to five.
Jac-Cen-Del scored; but Makenzie Mathews matched that; and the Lady Eagles followed that with a run of five straight on a basket by Kelsey Bowling and a three-pointer from Jenna Hughes to tie the game at 11-11 with two minutes to play.
Switzerland County, with all five starters playing huge minutes against a deep Lady Eagle team that kept running in fresh forces, got two freethrows from Brooke Todd and a basket from Eve Galbreath, and after Lilly Simon scored for Jac-Cen-Del, a buzzer-beating bucket by Brooke Todd gave Switzerland County the lead at the first break, 17-13.
The Lady Pacers kept up the offense as the second quarter opened, getting another basket by Eve Galbreath and a three-pointer from Hailee Lay to move out to a nine point advantage.
Jac-Cen-Del got three freethrows to cut the lead down to six midway through the quarter, and those freethrows were expensive for the Lady Pacers, as both Brooke Todd and Makenzie Mathews were forced to the bench for the final four minutes of the period with two fouls each.
Eve Galbreath kept working inside, scoring again to extend the lead to eight; and both offenses stalled for the remainder of the half, but Lady Eagle Rosie Newhart scored with one second to go, sending the teams to the halftime break with Switzerland County in front, 24-18.
The high-powered Jac-Cen-Del offense managed just five points in the second quarter; but the Lady Eagles would explode in the second half, and that offensive run would turn out to be too much for Switzerland County to keep up with.
The Lady Eagles outscored the Lady Pacers 48-35 over the final two quarters.
The third quarter started out well for Switzerland County, as Brooke Todd converted a three-point play to again push the lead up to nine; but Jac-Cen-Del would go on a 12-2 run over the next three minutes, taking a 30-29 lead with 4:50 to go in the third.
The only Switzerland County points in the span was a bucket from Kelsi Konkle, but after Coach Ashley Kitts called a timeout to settle her troops, a basket from Brooke Todd pushed the Lady Pacers right back into the lead.
It was then time for Lady Eagle Jordan Day to turn on her offense, and the junior accounted for seven straight points. Switzerland County got a basket from Hailee Lay, but with just over a minute to go, the Lady Eagles held a 37-33 lead.
Eve Galbreath made two freethrows to cut the deficit in half; but Hayley Bruns matched that with an inside basket; and the lead stayed at two. Brooke Todd then went back to work, hitting another basket in the lane and following that with a freethrow. After Jenna Hughes made a freethrow for Jac-Cen-Del, another bucket by Brooke Todd closed the quarter, and the two combatants headed to the final eight minutes of play tied at 40-40.
Jac-Cen-Del’s Jenna Hughes opened the final period with a three-pointer, but that’s when Makenzie Mathews caught fire.
She hit a jumper from the wing, and after Lilly Simon scored, Makenzie Mathews hit another jumper and followed that with a three-pointer to put Switzerland County back in front by a 47-45 score with 5:32 to go.
Rosie Newhart stopped that run with a freethrow, but the Lady Pacers went right back inside to Eve Galbreath, who battled through double teams to score again and up the lead to three. Jenna Hughes then nailed another three to tie the game again; but Eve Galbreath scored again inside to give the Lady Pacers a 51-29 lead with four minutes to go.
Coming out of a timeout, Jac-Cen-Del got a freethrow from Rosie Newhart, and when her second attempt bounced off, Lady Eagle Lilly Simon grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the put-back. She converted both freethrows, and Jac-Cen-Del was back in front by one, 52-51.
A basket by Kelsey Bowling expanded the Lady Eagle lead to three; but Brooke Todd made a pair of freethrows to slice the lead down to one.
Lady Eagle Lilly Simon then hit a big three-pointer, but again Brooke Todd raced through the lane for a layup to make the lead just two with a minute to go.
What came next was critical for the Lady Pacer chances, as Lilly Simon raced through the lane for Jac-Cen-Del and she was fouled by Brooke Todd – the fifth and final foul of the night for the junior guard, sending her to the bench for the remainder of the contest.
After Lilly Simon hit one freethrow to make the lead three; Hailee Lay hit a big jumper that again pulled the deficit down to one with 38-seconds to go.
Trying to inbound the ball following a timeout, Jac-Cen-Del through the pass out of bounds, giving possession back to Switzerland County and sending a roar through the Pacer faithful.
But Switzerland County couldn’t convert, giving possession back to the Lady Eagles with 34-seconds to go.
Forced to foul in an attempt to get the ball back, Switzerland County didn’t catch any breaks, as Lilly Simon went to the line and converted six straight attempts to seal the win. The Lady Pacers did get another basket from Makenzie Mathews, but time ran out on the run.
At the final buzzer, Jac-Cen-Del earned the win, 64-59.
Brooke Todd led Switzerland County with 21 points; while Eve Galbreath finished with 16 and Makenzie Mathews made it three in double figures, as she connected for 13 points. Hailee Lay had seven; and Kelsi Konkle finished with four.
Lilly Simon led all scorers with 25 points; with Jordan Day accounting for 13 points and Jenna Hughes with 10.
In the junior varsity game, Jac-Cen-Del defeated Switzerland County by a final score of 52-32.
Hope Tankersley led the Lady Pacers with 14 points; and Whitley Schirmer finished with five points. Mallory Phagan had four points; while Emerson Schroer, Bre Braun, Jody Breeck, and Taylar Jordan all had two points each. Ashley Peelman added one point.
Switzerland County now hits the road, playing at Rising Sun this Tuesday and then traveling to South Ripley next Thursday for two critical conference games.