When it was announced that Coach Wayne Ellegood’s Switzerland County Lady Pacers would open the first annual “Rumble on the River” basketball tournament at Southwestern High School, little did anyone know that the opening game of the tourney would be at 9 a.m. on a snowy Thursday morning just before the New Year.When it was announced that Coach Wayne Ellegood’s Switzerland County Lady Pacers would open the first annual “Rumble on the River” basketball tournament at Southwestern High School, little did anyone know that the opening game of the tourney would be at 9 a.m. on a snowy Thursday morning just before the New Year.
That’s exactly what happened to the Lady Pacers, as the team got an early bus ride to Hanover, overcame a slow start offensively in the first quarter, and then rode to the victory over the Jasper Lady Wildcats by a score of 61-53.
Switzerland County looked to still be in an offensive slumber as the game started, with Jasper’s Jessica Beck connecting on a jumper to open the scoring. Ashley Chase quickly matched that, but Jessica Beck came right back with a three-pointer to push Jasper back out in front.
Jasper’s Jill Seng followed that with two straight buckets, and with 4:38 to play Switzerland County found itself down by a 9-2 count.
After Coach Ellegood called timeout to “wake up” his team — that’s exactly what happened, as the Lady Pacers went on a run of 13 straight points.
Ashley Bright got the run started with a layup, and that was followed by two freethrows from Brittany Cole. Holly Jackson found the range on two straight possessions for baskets; and Ashley Bright capped the run with a jumper that caused Jasper coach Karen Stenftenagel to call a timeout with her troops down by a 15-9 count.
Jessica Beck scored again out of the timeout to stop the run; but Ashley Chase matched that with a power move in the middle of the lane. Allison Block then made a freethrow for Jasper, but again Ashley Chase was unstoppable inside, scoring with 10-seconds to go in the period to give Switzerland County a 19-12 lead.
Some over enthusiasm cost the Lady Pacers at the end of the quarter, as Ashley Chase fouled Tara Huther as she launched a last-second three-pointer. The foul put the Lady Wildcat senior on the line for three freethrows — all of which she made to make the score 19-15 after one quarter of play.
Ashley Bright opened the second quarter with a basket, and when Kodi Driver scored moments later, the Lady Pacers were again holding an eight-point lead.
A basket by Jasper’s Tara Huther was matched by a baseline bucket from Jaclyn Ranz; and Jessica Beck’s two-pointer was negated by another basket by Kodi Driver, and the junior then connected on a three-pointer to make the lead 11 with 4:37 to play. Kodi Driver, who is quietly establishing herself as one of the best pure shooters in the area, had an outstanding day, keeping the Jasper defense guessing whether she would connect from outside or filter a pass inside to Ashley Chase.
Jasper got a freethrow from Tara Huther and a basket from Whitney Sendelweck to draw back within eight; but Switzerland County closed the half with a basket from Brittany Cole and a three-pointer from Jaclyn Ranz to go into the break holding a 35-22 lead.
Jasper tried to find its offense as the second half began, getting a basket from Tara Huther to climb within 11; but the third period would belong to Lady Pacer junior Ashley Chase, who would score eight of Switzerland County’s 11 third quarter points — all of which kept the Wildcats at bay.
Jaclyn Ranz had the other points on a long three-pointer, and although Jasper won the quarter by a 14-11 count; the two teams headed to the final period of play with Switzerland County holding a 46-36 lead.
If the third quarter belonged to Ashley Chase; the opening four minutes of the final period were owned by Jasper’s Jill Seng. The Lady Wildcat sophomore scored the first 11 points for her team in the fourth quarter, putting Jasper on an 11-4 run and closing to within three, 50-47, with 4:44 to play.
Switzerland County got its points on baskets by Jaclyn Ranz and Ashley Chase; and when crunch time came Switzerland County didn’t panic and stayed right with its game plan.
Ashley Bright and Ashley Chase both scored to extend the lead back to seven; but Jasper responded with two straight baskets by Tara Huther to get back within three with 1:47 to play.
Sometimes the biggest plays of the game don’t show up in the score book — and the final minute of this game was a true indicator of that saying.
With 41-seconds to play and Switzerland County holding a three-point lead, Kodi Driver was fouled and sent to the freethrow line. She missed the front end of the one-and-bonus, but senior center Brittany Cole swept in and grabbed the offensive rebound and then held on as Jasper tried to pry the ball from her hands.
The play resulted in a held ball, which Switzerland County maintained possession of on the alternating possession rule.
That allowed Ashley Bright, one of the best freethrow shooters in the conference, to get fouled, and she made both freethrows to extend the lead back to five.
After Jasper failed to score on their end, Switzerland County grabbed possession, and with 23-seconds to play Ashley Chase was fouled and sent to the line for the one-and-one. She made the first but missed the second, but again it was Brittany Cole getting position and grabbing the offensive rebound. She was fouled and went to the line, and she made one freethrow to make the score 58-51 with 21-seconds left.
After Jessica Beck made two freethrows for Jasper, the Lady Pacers closed out the contest with freethrows by Ashley Bright and Ashley Chase to claim the win by a final score of 61-53.
Ashley Chase led all scorers with 24 points in the game; and Ashley Bright with 11 and Jaclyn Ranz with 10 joined her in double figures. Kodi Driver finished with seven points; Brittany Cole added five points; and Holly Jackson finished with four.
Jill Seng led Jasper with 17 points, while Jessica Beck finished with 15 points and Tara Huther had 14.
The win was big one for the Lady Pacers, as Jasper is a 3-A school with an enrollment of 1,097 — compared to Switzerland County’s enrollment of 470.