Lady Pacers in line for share of conference crown after overtime victory over Southwestern

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“Exciting, exciting, exciting” seems to be the words most used in connection with the Switzerland County Lady Pacers’ thrilling, overtime victory Monday night over the state-ranked Southwestern Lady Rebels.

The Lady Pacers had the hearts of their fans beating furiously throughout a game that went into overtime, but not after Switzerland County mounted a breath-taking comeback.

When the game had finished, the Lady Pacer fans looked as worn down as the players; but the smiles were big — as they always are when the locals defeat a team ranked third in the state.

The Lady Pacers stayed in reach of the Lady Rebels during the game but did not take a lead until the end of the game.

The final quarter of the game really started to get even more exciting as Ashley Chase scored a basket and April Thieman added a layup with 5:38 left in the contest.

The Lady Rebels then decided to hold the ball — it gave a ‘deja vu’ moment to the Lady Pacers and their fans — hearkening back to a moment during the Rivertown Classic Tournament at South Dearborn when the ball was held.

As Rebel fans rose to their feet in support of their squad, Southwestern coach Donna Cheatham chose to sit on her lead, and ordered guard Devin Brierly to simply stand at halfcourt with the ball under her arm while Switzerland County settled down into their zone defense.

Just like in the Rivertown Classic, Switzerland County coach Wayne Ellegood showed confidence in his team by waiting until just the right moment to move out and change the defense — and just like in the Rivertown Classic — the move blew up squarely in the faces of the Southwestern team and coaching staff.

“I think them holding the ball just pumped our girls up that much more” Coach Wayne Ellegood said. “Making them more eager for the win.”

The Lady Pacers committed a foul to stop play, and Coach Ellegood called a timeout to regroup and set up a new defense. The pressure that Switzerland County applied forced the Lady Rebels into a turnover, and Ashley Chase was then sent to the foul line after the Lady Pacers gained possession of the ball. She connected on both of her shots at the line; and that narrowed the Lady Rebel lead down to just one point, 32-31.

Ashley Chase, with two minutes remaining in regulation, found her way to the basket as the Lady Rebel defense tried to stop her. They couldn’t, and she connected on the basket to give the Lady Pacers their first lead of the night, 33-32.

The Lady Rebels didn’t quit, getting a three-point play from Kayla Hay and two freethrows from Sonja Bowyer to take back the lead, 37-33.

Ashley Chase then attempted a shot and was fouled sending her to the line where she connected on both cutting the Lady Rebel lead to 37-35.

If Switzerland County fans weren’t already worked into a frenzy, things got even more crazy when, with less than a minute left in the game, Ashley Bright connected on a three-pointer to push the Lady Pacers back into the lead by a 38-37 count.

With :24-seconds left in the game, Lady Rebel Jesse Oliver was fouled and sent to the line, where she knocked in one of two of her attempts to tie the game.

The Lady Pacers then took the lead again with :12-seconds left on the clock with Courtney Cole taking a pass inside from Ashley Chase and connecting on a layup, and with time winding down, Southwestern would have a final shot to claim the win.

There were only :11-seconds remaining when the Lady Rebels’ Devin Brierly got free after driving to the basket to tied the game at 40-40 and sending the contest into extra time.

With nearly everyone in the gym on their feet, the first minute of overtime saw senior Lady Rebel Kayla Hay going to the foul line. She was successful on both attempts, moving Southwestern out in front by a score of 42-40.

With 2:31 left in overtime, Lady Pacer Kodi Driver buried a three-point shot, taking the lead back for the Lady Pacers 43-42. If Lady Pacer fans were at a fever pitch before that shot, the senior’s trey rose the Switzerland County cheering section to new heights.

The Lady Rebels made an attempt to score inside with 2:06 left on the clock, but it was no good; and the Lady Pacers had possession of the ball with the lead and time on their side.

Coach Ellegood preached patience from the sidelines, instructing his troops to move the ball around the perimeter of the Lady Rebel defense while waiting for an easy basket to open up inside. Perhaps it was excitement or nerves, but Switzerland County threw the ball out of bounds, giving possession back to the Lady Rebels.

Sophomore April Thieman then stole the ball from Southwestern with 1:05 left on the clock; and when a Lady Rebel player tried to steal the ball back — a jump ball was called, giving possession to Southwestern.

That didn’t last long, as the Lady Rebels were called for a traveling violation, handing possession back to the Lady Pacers. Switzerland County again could not take advantage of the opportunity, as Ashley Bright was whistled for a travel, returning possession back to the Lady Rebels. The score still stood at 43-42, with Switzerland County out in front.

Southwestern then attempted a shot but couldn’t convert, with Lady Pacer Natalie Daugherty ripping down the rebound.

She passed the ball out of trouble and into the hands of Ashley Bright, who was fouled and sent to the freethrow line. She calmly sank both charities, extending the lead to three points.

Switzerland County pressure then forced another Southwestern turnover, and Lady Rebel Kayla Hay was called on a foul that sent Ashley Chase to the line with :05-seconds remaining in overtime.

The front end of the one-and-bonus didn’t fall for the Switzerland County All-State candidate, but it didn’t matter because the ball was juggled out of bounds with just :03 seconds left.

Attempting to travel the length of the floor and convert a game-winning basket, Lady Rebel Devin Brierly heaved a shot from just over halfcourt as the buzzer sounded, but it was not successful, and the game ended with the Lady Pacers winning 44-42.

Leading the Lady Pacers with a double-double was Ashley Chase. She scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds in the contest; and she also led the team with three blocked shots and three steals.

Scoring four points and playing great defense were Lady Pacers Ashley Bright, April Thieman, and Courtney Cole. Kodi Driver also played a good defensive game adding a critical three-pointer to the game in overtime. Natalie Daugherty chipped in two points and also added her defensive talents to the win of the team.

The game marked Senior Night for Southwestern, and the Lady Rebels honored their senior Kayla Hay. Southwestern also demonstrated sportsmanship by recognizing the Lady Pacer seniors: Ashley Chase, Natalie Daugherty and Kodi Driver, as part of their ceremony.

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The Lady Pacer jayvee team lost to the jayvee Lady Rebels by a score of 44-27.

The top scorer for the Lady Pacers team was Tanya Sefton with eight points; while Morgan Ross finished with seven and Megan McCarty chipped in four.

Lauren Chase and Karista Wengert each had three points; and Kaitlyn Rayles finished with two.