Pacer season comes to an end with sectional loss to North Decatur, 53-46

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For three quarters last Friday night the Switzerland County Pacer varsity basketball team went toe to toe with Sectional favorite North Decatur, but some offensive lapses at the wrong times and some poor freethrow shooting at critical times saw the Chargers pull away, ending the Pacer season, 53-46.

Switzerland County came into the game with momentum after having defeated Lawrenceburg in the Sectional’s opening round, and didn’t back down from a North Decatur team that entered tourney play 17-3.

After North Decatur’s John Hammersmith opened the scoring with a freethrow, the Pacers got a rebound basket from Adam Clark and a jumper from Anthony Dennis to move out to a quick lead. The Chargers answered with a pair of freethrows from Quentin Diekmann, but Switzerland County got a three-pointer from Quinn Meyer and another basket from Anthony Dennis to take a 9-3 lead with 3:26 to play.

North Decatur then made a run, getting a basket from Bobby Beeler and a three-pointer from Isaac Loechle to draw to within one; but a basket by Tyler Queen ended the first period, and the Pacers held an 11-8 lead.

North Decatur continued to push the ball offensively as the second stanza got underway, as Quentin Diekmann made a three-pointer and Justin Huber scored on a steal and a layup to push the Chargers in front by two.

Back came the Pacers, as baskets by Adam Clark and Tyler Queen sandwiched a three-pointer from Keegan Kincaid, giving Switzerland County an 18-13 lead. After Bobby Beeler scored inside for North Decatur, another three-pointer from Keegan Kincaid stretched the lead to six.

North Decatur then scored three straight points; and when Trevor Smith converted a freethrow for the Pacers with 13-seconds remaining, the half ended with Switzerland County on top by a 22-18 count.

The Pacers would enjoy their biggest lead of the contest as the third quarter opened, getting another three-pointer from Keegan Kincaid and a basket from Tyler Queen to swell the advantage to nine, 27-18, with seven minutes to go.

After a Charger timeout, North Decatur responded, ripping off eight straight points to climb back to within one; forcing Pacer coach B.J. McAlister to call two timeouts in a span of 33-seconds in an effort to calm his troops.

Adam Clark stopped the run with a basket inside that pushed the lead back to three; but the Pacers lost an opportunity to build on that lead moments later when Quinn Meyer missed a pair of freethrows.

North Decatur then got baskets from Quentin Diekmann and Isaac Loechle, and with 3:20 to go in the quarter, North Decatur was back in front, 30-29.

Switzerland County responded, getting a basket from Keegan Kincaid and a freethrow from Quinn Meyer to go back up by two; but North Decatur closed the third quarter with a run of five straight points, and with one period to play, the Chargers held a 35-32 advantage.

The lead would grow to five as the final quarter got underway on a basket by Isaac Loechle, and after Adam Clark made one of two freethrow attempts; Isaac Loechle scored again to push the lead to six. Quinn Meyer scored on a jumper for Switzerland County, but North Decatur’s Tyler Brown drilled a three-pointer that kept a Pacer run from starting.

Trevor Smith then made one of two freethrows, and when Isaac Loechle hit a three-pointer moments later, North Decatur had dug out of a nine-point deficit to hold a nine-point lead with 3:33 to go.

Adam Clark made a pair of freethrows; but again Isaac Loechle hit a long three-pointer that gave the Chargers a double-digit lead with two minutes to play.

Quinn Meyer was fouled and made one of two freethrows; and after several defensive stands, Keegan Kincaid made a pair of freethrows that cut the lead to seven. Isaac Loechle made three freethrows that wiped out the Pacer points; but with 26-seconds to go, Keegan Kincaid drilled another three-pointer that made the score 51-44.

Isaac Loechle then was fouled an made a pair of charities; and the game ended with Pacer Tyler Queen converted a pair of freethrows, and North Decatur moved on to the championship game with a 53-46 win.

“The difference I thought was that the first half we were attacking and in the second half we were back on our heels,” B.J. McAlister said. “But still, we called a timeout and we settled down and we got shots. Let’s face it, we lost the basketball game, but there was a segment there where we were getting a stop and then going down on the other end and just missing. There were a couple of times when we had some wide open looks.”

Coach McAlister said that the Chargers did a good job of speeding up his Pacers in the second half, making Switzerland County play at a tempo that they didn’t want to; but felt that his kids never gave up fighting for the win.

“We were 11-of-20 at the freethrow line, and two of those were one-and ones,” the coach said. “When you play a good team like that, you’ve got to take care of the basketball and you’ve got to make freethrows. You can’t leave points on the floor.”

Even in the disappointment of the loss, the Pacer coach still was extremely proud of his team, especially his lone senior, Adam Clark.

” We went 8-4 after Christmas, and a huge, huge part of our success was the leader that Adam Clark was for us,” the coach said. “We see it everyday. We’re on the floor and he’s always talking. He’s always getting us in huddles and making sure his teammates are where they are supposed to be.

“I’ve never seen a player develop and improve as much as Adam has, and that’s all shows just how great of a kid he is,” B.J. McAlister continued. “He’s going to follow you. He’s going to work hard for you. He’s the guy that our team would say he’s the first guy they would want in their foxhole – a guy who would go to war with you.”

With the loss of just one senior, there is a solid core of players returning next year, but on Friday night the coach simply wanted to respect the work of his lone senior, and to look back on the successes that his team had during the campaign.

“We said as a staff when our season started, we didn’t know what level we were starting out at, but that it was going to be a very enjoyable group to coach because of how far we thought they would come,” B.J. McAlister said. “They’ve really progressed and I’m proud of them. Early in the year we would not be able to compete with a team like North Decatur. It’s all on these kids. They’ve worked hard and earned this and gotten better.”

Keegan Kincaid led the Pacers on Friday night with 16 points; while Adam Clark finished with nine. Tyler Queen had eight points; Quinn Meyer added seven; Anthony Dennis had four; and Trevor Smith contributed two.

North Decatur was led by Isaac Loechle, who had 24 points; and Quentin Dieckmann with 10.

The loss closes the Pacer season at 10-13.

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In the second semifinal on Friday night, Hauser defeated South Ripley by a final score of 71-66; and the Jets returned on Saturday night to defeat North Decatur 57-54 to claim the Class 2A Sectional #44 championship.

Hauser now plays Winchester this Saturday in the second game of the Connersville Regional. Centerville plays Park Tudor in the regional’s first game, starting at 10 a.m.