For just over three quarters, Tuesday night’s girls varsity basketball game between Switzerland County and Rising Sun was a back and forth battle typical of two rivals; but with just over four minutes left in the game, things got completely away from the Lady Pacers, and the Lady Shiners took advantage, and pulled away for a 52-40 victory.
After a 14-14 first quarter; Switzerland County had a big second period and went to halftime holding a 27-20 lead.
The lead grew to 33-22 midway through the third quarter, but that’s when Rising Sun begin to get hot offensively slicing the lead down to just one, 35-34 after three quarters.
The final stanza was one of the most exciting and bizarre of the entire season.
Rising Sun took the lead with 6:46 to play in the game, on a put-back basket by Jayden McAlister.
Switzerland County went straight to its senior star, and Whitley Schirmer hit a critical bucket to again push the Lady Pacers out in front.
The back and forth continued, and Saige Groover hit a turnaround jumper from the freethrow line to give the Lady Shiners a 38-37 lead with 4:28 to go.
Switzerland County pushed the ball to the basket, but on three straight trips down the Lady Pacers were whistled with offensive fouls; and with 4:18 to go, Switzerland County coach Ashley Kitts had seen enough.
The coach rose from the bench and called for a timeout in an effort to calm her team, and also to try and get some answers from the referees.
Moving forward to try and find out what the issue was, she was suddenly hit with a second technical, sending her to the locker room and moving former head coach and current varsity assistant Wayne Ellegood up to run the team for the rest of the game.
Rising Sun kept heating up on offense, as junior superstar Lucy Carrigan was aggressive going to the basket, forcing the Switzerland County defense to try and stop her without fouling her. That didn’t work well, as Carrigan ended up on the freethrow line for 12 attempts in the final stanza alone, making 10 of those.
Rising Sun extended its lead to 11 at 48-37 with just over a minute to go; and when Switzerland County’s Schirmer fouled out, the outcome of the game was secured.
The lead moved to 52-37 with less than a minute to play; and Switzerland County could manage just three more points before the final horn sounded.
Final score: Rising Sun 52, Switzerland County 40.
At the core of the game was the final period, as Rising Sun outscored Switzerland County 18-5 in the quarter, roaring from behind for the win.
Schirmer led the Lady Pacers with 15 points; while Hope Tankersley and Aleiah Thomas each added eight points. Kinsley Griffith had four points; Taylar Jordan and McKenli Scudder had two points each; and Rylee Hankins contributed one point.
Carrigan, already with more than 1,000 career points with an entire season yet to play; led all scorers with 35 points, including 14 in the key fourth quarter.
McAlister had eight points; Sydney Bostic had six points; Groover had two points; and Sydney Pitts had one point.
The loss sends Switzerland County (7-15) into its final regular season game tonight (Thursday) at South Ripley (18-4); and the Lady Pacers will turn right around and take on the Lady Raiders again on Tuesday night in the first round of Sectional play at Austin at 6 p.m.
Rising Sun (3-18) finishes off its regular season tomorrow (Friday) with a home game against Providence Cristo Rey. Rising Sun then enters Sectional play at Jac-Cen-Del on Wednesday, February 1st, in the 6 p.m. game against Southwestern Shelby (13-8).
In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County won by a final score of 44-14.
Jaelyn Hemingway led the Lady Pacers with 14 points; with Josie Meyer and McKenli Scudder each adding six points.
Emma Sullivan had five points; Aleiah Thomas and Jody Breeck had four points each; Lexi Lay had three points; and Kinsley Griffith had two.
For the Lady Shiners, Sydney Pitts had five points; Sydney Bostic had three points; while Erica Schraeder, Aroa Benetiz-Santana, and Pang Pornthanawat each had two points.