Pacers battle hard in Sectional, but can’t overcome cold fourth quarter shooting drought


The season of the Switzerland County Pacer boys varsity basketball team came to an end on Friday night in the semifinal round of the Class 2A Sectional. After a thrilling, back and forth battle, the Pacers couldn’t overcome a cold shooting streak in the fourth quarter and fell to North Decatur by a final score of 61-51.

The 10-point margin was not indicative of how close the game was, as Coach Adam Dennis’s squad challenged the Chargers all through the contest.

The Pacers drew first blood on a Caleb Furnish jumper; but Dillion Merritt matched that. Furnish followed with a three-pointer; but North Decatur grabbed an early lead when Dayne Lecher hit a three-pointer and Evan Wallpe followed that with a pair of freethrows.

After Furnish converted a freethrow for the Pacers, North Decatur got another basket from Merritt to take a 9-6 lead.

Switzerland County then got an inside bucket from Justin Green off of an assist from Kollin Hayes; and that was followed by a layup from Hunter Hayes to move out to a 10-9 lead.

After Wallpe scored inside to push the Chargers back in front, Hunter Hayes converted again inside to give Switzerland County a 12-11 lead after one period.

The second quarter opened with Casper Stow making a steal and converting it to a layup for the Pacers; and North Decatur came back with a freethrow and a basket from Lecher to tie the game at 14-14.

Switzerland County got a basket from Dakota Fuller; but the back and forth continued as Merritt scored. Fuller scored again; and when Merritt hit a three-pointer moments later, North Decatur grabbed a one point lead.

Justin Green then began to take over inside for the Pacers, scoring six straight points for Switzerland County, beginning with two straight buckets to take a three-point lead; and after Wallpe scored inside; Green had a spectacular tip-in that brought the Switzerland County faithful to their feet.

Wallpe made a freethrow moments later; but Fuller raced through the lane for a layup; and after Merritt scored for the Chargers; Kyle Whitham scored, giving Switzerland County a 28-24 lead at the half.

Merritt led a North Decatur charge to open the third quarter, as the junior had six straight points on a basket, a freethrow, and a three-pointer. After another North Decatur basket, the Chargers grabbed a 32-28 lead with five minutes to go.

Green scored inside again to break that run; but North Decatur came right back with baskets from Wallpe and Luke Badgley to take a six-point lead.

Switzerland County didn’t falter, bouncing right back with a three-pointer by Furnish, a jumper from the freethrow line by Hunter Hayes and a layup from Fuller to race back to a one-point lead. Badgley scored again for the Chargers; and after Hunter Hayes scored, a three-pointer by Andrew Hocker gave North Decatur a 41-39 lead after three quarters.

The Charger lead didn’t last long, as Kollin Hayes drilled a three-pointer for the Pacers to immediately push Switzerland County back in front.

North Decatur moved back ahead when Merritt hit a three-pointer and Hocker converted a layup following a steal. Hunter Hayes then made a basket; and the score was 46-44 five minutes to play.

That’s when things went cold for the Pacers.

North Decatur went on a run of 13 straight points over the next four minutes to cripple Switzerland County’s tourney hopes.

After Wallpe scored inside he followed that with a freethrow; and after Lecher made a pair of freethrows; North Decatur got baskets from Badgley, Merritt and Wallpe. Badgley then converted a pair of freethrows, and with 1:21 to go, the Chargers began to celebrate, holding a 59-44 lead.

The Pacers didn’t quit, with Kollin Hayes hitting a three-pointer and Furnish following that with two freethrows; but Switzerland County simply couldn’t mount a big enough comeback quickly enough to overcome the North Decatur surge.

Arek Holloway made two freethrows for the Chargers with 12-seconds left; and Hunter Hayes completed his outstanding tournament with two charities in the closing seconds to close the gap down to 10 at the end; and the Chargers advanced by a final score of 61-51.

Hunter Hayes led Switzerland County with 12 points; while Furnish had 11 points and Green was also in double figures with 10.

Fuller finished with eight points; Kollin Hayes had six; and Whitham and Stow each had two.

Switzerland County made 17 field goals in the game; four three-pointers; and were 5-for-7 from the freethrow line.

North Decatur saw Merritt lead the way with 22 points; with Wallpe adding 14 points and Badgley contributing 10.

The Chargers also had 17 field goals; but North Decatur made five three-pointers and were 12-for-20 from the charity stripe.


North Decatur moved into the Sectional Championship game on Saturday versus South Ripley, as the Raiders defeated Austin in Friday’s second semifinal by a score of 68-51.

The Chargers then pulled the upset on Saturday night, winning the Sectional championship with a 56-50 victory. North Decatur now moves on to this Saturday’s Regional at Paoli, where the Chargers (18-6) will play Linton-Stockton (22-4) in the second game.

South Spencer (17-8) will play Providence (17-7) in the Regional opener.