When junior standout Ashley Chase went down with an injured knee with approximately three minutes to go in the first half of Friday’s consolation game with Southwestern, Switzerland County coach Wayne Ellegood knew that if his team was going to win the game, other players were going to have to step up.
That’s just what happened, as Switzerland County got outstanding contributions from its bench and after going into halftime tied at 19-19, the Lady Pacers pulled away to claim third place in the tournament with a 48-37 victory over the Lady Rebels.
“I don’t know if we did anything really well, but we did everything okay,” Coach Ellegood said in assessing the contest. “We just played a really good fourth quarter and our bench players really came on strong for us. It was a good win all the way around.”
Ashley Chase’s knee was termed as “really sore” by her coach at Tuesday’s practice, but she was expected to be in the starting lineup Wednesday night when Switzerland County opened River Town Classic play again South Dearborn.
“Obviously Ashley is very important to our team, but I was glad that when some of our role players were called on after she got hurt, we got some really good efforts out of a lot of girls,” Coach Ellegood said.
He specifically praised the play of senior guard Jaclyn Ranz along with juniors Natalie Daugherty and Kodi Driver in the Southwestern game, noting that each had made significant contributions already this season but really came on in the Southwestern game.
“All three of them really played hard,” their coach said. “Everybody played hard. We had a really good fourth quarter and that made a big difference. Freshman Courtney Cole had a good fourth quarter for us, so we got a lot of help from a lot of different players.”
Overall the Switzerland County bench players outscored Southwestern’s bench players 16-5 — a difference of 11 points, which was also the final point differential in the game.
“The bench really did it for us,” Coach Ellegood said.
After a hard-fought first quarter, Switzerland County held a 12-11 lead over Southwestern, and the Lady Rebels fought back and were holding a one-point lead when Ashley Chase injured her knee.
“That’s when our bench really did the job for us,” Wayne Ellegood said. “We had a chance to fall apart, but instead we battled back and got the game tied at halftime.”
Ashley Chase sported a noticeable limp for the remainder of the game, but still managed a game-high 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the victory. She was named to the All Tournament Team for her efforts, which was voted on by the coaches.
Southwestern had two players on the All Tournament team despite finishing fourth: Jessie Oliver and Kristi McVey — and Kristi McVey was named as the tournament’s co-MVP along with Franklin County’s Tosha Merrill.
The third quarter saw some limited offense, as Switzerland County outscored Southwestern 8-7 in the period to grab a one point lead. Freshman Courtney Cole played well in the third period; while senior Holly Jackson pulled down seven rebounds in the third quarter alone.
That set the stage for the final eight minutes of play, and Switzerland County saved its best for last, rolling to a 23-13 fourth quarter total and grabbing the victory.
“The fourth quarter was big for us,” the coach said. “It was a good send off for the rest of the season.”
Ashley Chase led the game with 23 points; while Courtney Cole added seven points and Kodi Driver finished with six. Jaclyn Ranz had four points; Natalie Daugherty and Ashley Bright each finished with three points; and Brittany Cole added two points.
Switzerland County out rebounded Southwestern 34-26, with Holly Jackson leading the Lady Pacers with eight. Holly Jackson and Natalie Daugherty both had three assists to lead Switzerland County; and Kodi Driver had two of the team’s four three-pointers, with Natalie Daugherty and Jaclyn Ranz adding the other two.
The Lady Pacers were a bit better from the freethrow line, shooting 10-for-18 for 55.6 percent.