Lady Pacers can’t sustain strong first quarter, fall to Jac-Cen-Del

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After a closely played first quarter, the Switzerland County Lady Pacer varsity basketball team ran into an offensive buzz saw on Tuesday night, as visiting state-ranked Jac- Cen-Del sent the Switzerland County Senior Night crowd

home disappointed, winning 86-40.

The first quarter saw the Lady Pacers battle to a near-draw, with the Lady Eagles – the defending State Champions in Class 1A – holding just a 15-

14 lead at the first break.

Senior Lady Pacer Whitley Schirmer was causing Jac-Cen-Del all sorts of problems, scoring eight points by herself in the opening stanza; while

freshman Aleiah Thomas was also hot early, scoring six points.

Jac-Cen-Del was methodical in the opening period, with Kayla Bowling recording seven points; Morgen Carroll had four; and Rosie Newhart and Lilly

Simon each had two.

Down by just one, Switzerland County was in some trouble, as Schirmer was hit with two early fouls that sent her to the bench, and with 5:14 to play in the second, senior Hope Tankersley went to the floor with a knee injury, and had to be carried to the trainer’s room. She would return later, but sported a heavy brace for the remainder of the contest.

Meanwhile, Jac-Cen-Del got hot, running off 11 straight points to take control, and after the Lady Pacers got a basket from Caitlynn Morris, another Jac-Cen-Del run made it 36-19; and by halftime the Lady Eagles had pushed the score to 42-21 on the strength of a 27-7 second quarter scoring spread.

In the second, along with Morris’ basket, Switzerland County

got another bucket from Thomas and freethrows from Tankersley

and McKenli Scudder.

With the score doubled up at the half, Jac-Cen-Del kept rolling in the third quarter, again scoring 27 points over the eight minute span while Switzerland County had eight. After three, the score stood at 69-29.

In the third, Thomas was the hot hand for the Lady Pacers, scoring six points; while Rylee Hankins made two free throws. The fourth quarter was still contested, as Coach Ashley Kitts’ squad didn’t fold; but Jac-Cen-Del still won the quarter with a 17-11 scoring margin; and pulled away for a big conference win, 86-40.

In that final period, Schirmer came back with four more points; while Hankins had two, Jody Breeck had two; and Kinsley Griffith had a freethrow.

But the moment of the night came with just over a minute to play. Kitts had already removed her seniors from the game, but in a pre-orchestrated move, Jac-Cen-Del coach Scott Smith called a timeout before the Lady Eagles could inbound the ball from under the Switzerland County basket.

At the timeout, Kitts reinserted seniors Schirmer, Tankersley, Taylar Jordan, and Morris back into the game, but she also called on senior Mallory Phagan, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at Southwestern on December 17th.

On crutches, Phagan entered the game, and when she got to the freethrow lane, Switzerland County athletic director David Todd took the crutches, leaving Phagan under the basket.

The plan was for the senior to record one final bucket, but there was a problem – it was Jac-Cen-Del’s ball.

No problem, as the Lady Eagles willingly bounced the inbound pass to Phagan, who missed her first attempt, but after a rebound, made the layup as the crowd roared.

Kitts then called a timeout, bringing her seniors off of the floor one last time together, and the final minute was played.

Thomas led Switzerland County with 14 points; while Schirmer had 12. Hankins added four; Morris, Scudder, Breeck, and Phagan had two each; and Tankersley and Griffith had one each. Jac-Cen-Del was led by Simon with 20; while Bowling had 18; and Newhart had 12.

In the junior varsity game, a McKenli Scudder three-pointer at the buzzer sent the game into overtime, but in the extra session, Jac-Cen-Del pulled away and won by a score of 48-45.

Scudder had 16 to lead the scoring, while Jaelyn Hemingway

had eight, Josie Meyer had seven; Aleiah Thomas had four; Lexi Lay had four; Jody Breeck had four; and Emma Sullivan added two.