Lady Pacers, cheerleaders repeat as champions of Rivertown Classic Tourney


For the second straight year, the Switzerland County Lady Pacer basketball team captured the championship of the Rivertown Classic Basketball Tournament held last week at South Dearborn High School.

The Lady Pacers defeated Lawrenceburg in the opening round and then South Dearborn in the championship game to earn the title.

Also for the second straight year, the Switzerland County varsity cheerleading squad captured first place in the cheerleading competition, held in conjunction with the basketball tournament.

The Pacer boys basketball team didn’t fare as well, falling to Lawrenceburg in the opening round and then losing to Rising Sun in the consolation game.

“It was a good outcome for us,” Lady Pacer coach Wayne Ellegood said of the title. “I think in the first game against Lawrenceburg we were a little rusty because we hadn’t played in a couple of weeks, but we advanced in a tough game. We played better in the championship game on Saturday.”

The championship tilt was filled with drama and oddities, as South Dearborn — who had defeated Switzerland County earlier in the season — opted to hold the ball for the final three minutes of the third quarter while holding a 23-20 lead as the Lady Pacers simply stood and waited.

With the Lady Knight guard standing near the center circle dribbling the ball, Coach Ellegood decided to leave his Lady Pacers in their zone defense — which led to some confusion in the crowd — as players stood at some spots on the floor and talked together as they waited for the clock to wind down.

When the clock did hit the 10-second mark; the Lady Knights attempted to score, but threw the ball away, which gave the Lady Pacers momentum going into the final eight minutes.

“I think it killed their momentum,” Coach Ellegood said of the ploy. “If you would have told me before I left my house that at the end of the third quarter we would have only been down by three points, I would have taken it.”

The coach said that the Switzerland County plan was to call a timeout and then press South Dearborn at the end of the third quarter and throughout the fourth period, but when the Lady Knights went into their deep stall, it saved both the timeout and allowed the Lady Pacer players to rest before a grueling final stanza.

“That’s a gamble that people take sometimes,” Wayne Ellegood continued about the stall. “You’ve got the lead and the ball, so you try and shorten the game. I think it fired our kids up.”

A big factor in the championship was sophomore guard Amber Smith, who came off of the bench to score a game-high 18 points, including four three-pointers, to lead the Lady Pacers to the win. She was honored as the tourney’s Most Valuable Player at the conclusion of the game.

“Amber coming off of the bench like she did on Saturday night obviously really helped us,” the coach said. “South Dearborn three-teamed Ashley (Chase), and they also didn’t let Kodi (Driver) get her shot from three-point range. Amber really came up big, and that’s something that we’ve known she is capable of in any game. She was a big lift for us.”

With Ashley Chase the target of the South Dearborn defense, Coach Ellegood said that the outstanding outside shooting game from Kodi Driver in the first round on Wednesday night forced the Lady Knights to rethink their defensive strategy.

The focus on two of the Switzerland County seniors allowed junior Ashley Bright and Amber Smith and others to step up to the challenge during the tournament.

Along with Amber Smith, Ashley Bright and Ashley Chase were named to the All Tournament team.

The opening round game against Lawrenceburg was a physical battle, but the Lady Pacer coach was happy with how his team responded to the pressure.

“We’re going to get that,” the coach said of the physical game. “Teams are going to challenge Ashley Chase, and we talk to her that she can’t get frustrated, because it opens up avenues for her teammates. Lawrenceburg is always physical, that’s their style of play. All in all, I’m glad that we came out of it with a win.”

With the championship in tow, the Lady Pacers don’t see any rest as they played New Albany on Tuesday night (another win) and face two more games this week. The freshman girls team also has two games this week, and many of those girls double up on the jayvee team.

That all starts tonight (Thursday) with a trip to play Lawrenceburg again. Switzerland County then entertains New Washington for an afternoon game this Saturday, and then travels to Jac-Cen-Del for a huge ORVC game next Tuesday.

“We’re pretty busy,” Wayne Ellegood said.