Lady Pacers weather storm, sluggish play to advance in the Sectional


Tuesday night it was stormy and nasty and awful around North Decatur High School.

And the weather outside was just as bad; as the Switzerland County Lady Pacers opened defense of their Sectional 45 Class 2A title with a 45-26 win over Southwestern that saw both teams turn in sluggish performances.

A highlight of the night came with 5:41 to play in the second quarter, when senior guard Brooke Todd drilled a three-pointer from the corner, and in doing so became the all time leading scorer in Switzerland County girls basketball history.

She entered the game seven points away from tying the all time mark of 1,199 points, which was established just last year by Eve Galbreath, and quickly dispatched the mark, scoring the first seven points of the game for the Lady Pacers and then breaking the mark with the three-pointer early in the second.

The opening quarter was back and forth, as Southwestern worked time off the clock as the Lady Rebels looked for holes in the Switzerland County zone defense. The game would go four minutes deep before Todd scored the first points of the game; and Emma Foley would match that moments later to knot the game early.

It would be another two minutes before Switzerland County would score again, with Todd hitting a short jumper; and then neither team would score until Todd hit a three-pointer with 31-seconds to go.

Hope Tankersley would convert two freethrows to extend the Lady Pacer lead to seven; and when Michaela Mahoney scored with just seconds to go in the period, the teams went to the first break with Switzerland County in front, 9-4.

Mallory Phagan opened the second period scoring with a basket for Switzerland County; but Abby Ralston matched that to keep the Lady Rebels within striking distance.

That’s how the game stayed until Todd hit the historic three-pointer; but Mahoney followed that with two freethrows and Southwestern wouldn’t go away. Whitley Schirmer got shot going moments later with a bucket from the elbow; but then Southwestern made a run.

Kelsi Brierly made a three-pointer and Taylor Cole grabbed an offensive rebound and made the put-back; and with less than two minutes to play, the Lady Rebels were within three, 16-13.

Todd converted a freethrow in the final minute, and the first half ended with Switzerland County in front 17-13.

If the first half wasn’t pretty offensively, the third quarter was right down ugly, as Switzerland County would manage just six points over the eight minute stretch; but Southwestern would account for just two.

After Cole opened the scoring for Southwestern with a freethrow; Makenzie Mathews would hit her first jumper of the game; and Brierly followed that with a freethrow.

Schirmer would score for the Lady Pacers; and would later make an outstanding steal that led to a layup by Tankersley, and the quarter ended with Switzerland County on top by a 23-15 count.

The Lady Pacers began to get into an offensive rhythm in the final period, with Mathews drilling a three-pointer and Kelsi Konkle connecting from the baseline to push the lead up to 13 points.

The Lady Rebels responded with a three-pointer from Ralston; but Tankersley hit a key basket moments later to stop any thoughts of a run by Southwestern. Cole scored again, but Switzerland County followed that with a freethrow by Schirmer and a basket by Todd, again extending the lead to 15, 33-18, with three minutes to go.

Ralston hit a three-pointer and Cole followed that with a freethrow that gave Southwestern some life; but Phagan hit a big basket to keep the lead in double digits, and that’s when the Lady Pacers did some major damage from the freethrow line.

Switzerland County would make 10 straight freethrows to close out the contest, as Southwestern was forced to foul in an attempt to get the ball back.

Todd, Schirmer, and Tankersley each made two charities in the stretch; and Phagan accounted for the other four.

Southwestern did manage a basket by Foley in the closing seconds, but it was too little, too late, and Switzerland County advanced in Sectional play in spite of a sub-par effort.

Todd led the Lady Pacers with 15 points and also added eight rebounds and four assists; while Tankersley and Phagan both came off of the bench to contribute eight points each. Tankersley also had five rebounds; while Phagan added three boards.

Schirmer added seven points, four rebounds and three assists; Mathews had five points and two rebounds; and Konkle chipped in two points while contributing nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

As a team, the Lady Pacers were just 14-for-41 from the floor for 43-percent; and were 3-of-14 from three-point range for 21-percent.

Southwestern was led by Ralston with eight points; and Cole had six. Mahoney, Brierly and Foley each had four points.

The Lady Rebels also attempted 41 field goals in the game, but made just nine for 22-percent shooting.

The win moves the Lady Pacers (16-7) into tomorrow (Friday) night’s semifinal game, where they will play the host North Decatur Lady Chargers (14-8) in the second contest. The evening will open with the first semifinal, featuring South Ripley (16-7), who defeated Milan in Tuesday night’s first game 56-35, taking on Austin (14-8). That game will begin at 6 p.m.

Tomorrow night’s two winners will then play for the Sectional title on Saturday night. The championship game is set to begin at 7 p.m.