Pacers advance in Sectional play with 59-51 victory over North Decatur

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The Switzerland County Pacers defeated defending Sectional champion North Decatur Tuesday night 59-51 in the opening game of the Southwestern Sectional.

The Pacers took the lead right away with a three-point shot from B.J. Shelton; and Mat Deaton then added two points at the charity stripe. Travis Webster then added a bucket to balloon the lead to 7-0 and North Decatur was forced into an early timeout.

The Chargers responded by adding four straight points at the freethrow line; and North Decatur also got two baskets to finish the quarter with eight points.

The Pacers continued their early scoring run, with Josh Snow and B.J. Shelton each adding a layup to increase the lead. Josh Snow then ended the quarter by connecting on a freethrow, and the first period ended with Pacers leading, 12-8.

The Chargers scored twice to open the second stanza before the Pacers were able to connect on a shot by Kyle Green; and Travis Webster chipped in one at the charity stripe to keep the Pacers in the lead, 15-12.

Ben Hickman grabbed a big offensive rebound and then found teammate Mat Deaton inside for a layup; and Travis Webster then stole the ball and went coast to coast for two points.

The Chargers, meanwhile, kept close by converting scoring opportunities at the freethrow line, getting four points at the charity stripe; but Ben Hickman kept things rolling for the Pacers by adding two layups to take the score to 23-16.

North Decatur then had a layup and connected on a three-point shot to get within two points of the Pacers lead; but before heading to the locker room for halftime, Chancey May hit a basket at the buzzer to give the Pacers a 25-21 halftime lead.

Each team scored 13 points during the evenly-matched second quarter; with the Pacers hitting a boiling 50 percent of their shots in the first half; while the Chargers converted only 30.8 percent of their attempts.

The difference came at the freethrow line, where the Pacers made 50-percent while the Chargers stood at a perfect 100-percent.

North Decatur took charge at the beginning of the third quarter, as Jordan Woolston hit a three-point shot and then connected on two at the freethrow line to take the lead from the Pacers for the first time, 26-25.

Chancey May then hit a three-pointer to reclaim the lead for Switzerland County; but Jordan Woolston assisted his brother Aaron Woolston and answered back with another three-pointer to see-saw the lead back to 29-28.

The back-and-forth battle would continue throughout the remainder of the third period, as neither team could move out to a commanding lead — something that Pacer Coach David Todd said was a hallmark of his team’s play.

“I think they never got more than a five point lead,” the Pacer mentor said following the game. “Every time they tried to make a statement, our guys answered back with a defensive stop or a big basket. Our defense has been big all year, and holding them to 21 points at halftime and 51 for the game shows that it was big for us in this game, too.”

The Chargers would finish the quarter chipping in two more at the line; while Pacer B.J. Shelton added a layup and Kyle Green would add a bucket to retake the lead. Not to be outdone, the Chargers took the lead back once again before the third quarter ended by connecting on two at the line; and the Pacers trailed at the end of the third period by a score of 41-40.

North Decatur had outscored the Switzerland County Pacers in the third quarter 20-15.

The Chargers were first to score in the final quarter; but B.J. Shelton answered back with a basket to keep things close. The Chargers hit another bucket; but again Travis Webster answered back with a three-point shot to tie the game with 6:43 on the clock.

The normally composed Chargers then committed a costly turnover when an errand pass went out of bounds; and Pacers took advantage of the gift, as Ben Hickman passed the ball inside to Zach Getz who sliced through the North Decatur defense for a layup that gave the Pacers back the lead, 47-45, with 6:01 left.

Both teams then settled down into a rough defensive posture, and the sticky defense shut down both offenses, and neither team would score another basket for the next 90 seconds as Sectional fans screamed in support of their teams.

Pacer Mat Deaton got the Pacer offense reignited with a bucket to expand the lead for the Pacers 49-45.

“I thought Mat Deaton played an outstanding game tonight,” Coach Todd said. “He did a great job on defense, and he was smart and let the game come to him on offense. He was a huge part of this win for our team.”

The Chargers then went to a familiar place for them — the freethrow line — and again connected on two freethrows. On the night, North Decatur converted 16 of their 17 attempts.

Chancey May then hit a bucket; but the Chargers would not give up, hitting two in a row to tie the game up once again 51-51. Mat Deaton then had a layup taking back the Pacer lead 53-51.

The Chargers had the ball with a chance to tie; but again North Decatur committed a violation; and the travel call gave possession back to Switzerland County at a critical juncture of the game.

The Pacers responded as they had all evening, with T.J. Sefton passing the ball inside to Mat Deaton for another key layup that expanded the Pacer lead to 55-51.

Now there was less than a minute to play and the Chargers once again had the ball and were trying to set up their offense, but defensive pressure by T.J. Sefton caused another travel call; and again the Pacers had the ball and control of the game.

The final moments of the game belonged to Travis Webster; who controlled the ball and ran out the clock. North Decatur was forced to foul the junior guard, and he drove the final nails in the Charger season with big freethrows, and those four points added to the final tally, as Switzerland County advanced with a 59-51 victory over the defending Sectional champions.

The leading scorer for the Pacers was Travis Webster with 14 points; and he also led the team with seven assists and four steals. B.J. Shelton finished with 11 points and seven rebounds; while Mat Deaton added 10 points.

Chancey May finished with nine points; while Josh Snow chipped in five points. Ben Hickman and Kyle Green each contributed four points to the victory.

The Pacers will now play tomorrow (Friday) night against Southwestern — who defeated Milan in Tuesday night’s second game. That game will begin at 6 p.m., with Lawrenceburg and South Ripley following in the tournament’s bye game. The winners from those two games will play in the championship game Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.