Pacers can’t hold lead in final minute, fall to South Ripley by score of 62-58

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In a hotly contested, tightly played game on Saturday night, Coach B.J. McAlister’s Switzerland County Pacer varsity boys basketball team battled foe South Ripley for 31 minutes, but the Pacers couldn’t maintain their lead in the game’s final minute, and saw their record fall to 1-6 with a 62-58 loss.

“The end of a ballgame is like a crisis,” Coach McAlister said following the game. “It really is. Our fans are in it. Their fans are in it. There’s highs. There’s lows. We write in our notebooks weekly, ‘Stay calm. Stay cool. Don’t be afraid’. I know we weren’t calm. We weren’t cool, and I hope we weren’t afraid – it didn’t appear to be that way.”

After seeing the lead change hands numerous times over the course of the contest, Switzerland Count used its pressure defense at key times to create mismatches and turnovers, pulling ahead by a 58-57 count with 1:04 to play on the strength of a Chase Ritch freethrow.

But that would be the final point that Switzerland County would score.

The Pacer defensive pressure caused a held ball with 49-seconds to play that gave Switzerland County the ball; but the Pacers couldn’t convert, and with 34-seconds to play South Ripley’s Jerad Walters stole a pass and raced to the other end, getting fouled on his shot attempt.

He converted both attempts to give the Raiders the lead; and on the ensuing possession, Switzerland County turned it over again without getting a shot attempt, and the Pacers were forced to foul Jerad Walters, who again made both freethrows to put South Ripley up by three.

On the next possession the Raiders forced a held ball, which gave possession back to South Ripley with 14-seconds to play; and the Raiders killed the clock until Jerad Walters was fouled again with just two seconds left; and he made one of the final attempts to make the final margin four points, 62-58.

Following the deflating loss, the Pacer coaching staff was left to find some positives in a negative situation.

One was that Switzerland County managed to get to the freethrow line more than in past games, attempting 24 freethrows on the night – converting 16.

“A lot of our success getting to the freethrow line was a lot more poise and a lot more straight line drives,” B.J. McAlister said. “We’ve been dribbling the ball east to west, and finally got some space to make straight line drives. Jump stop, gather ourselves and go up. When you just drive in, go up, and score, people aren’t set, so you don’t get fouled. We did a better job tonight of doing what we have to do to get to the freethrow line.”

As good as getting to the freethrow line was, it also showed its ugly side at key points in the game.

Switzerland County was 16-for-24 for the game from the freethrow line, but the Pacers were 9-for-10 in the first half; and just 7-for-14 when the game got to crunch time.

South Ripley was 14-for-16 from the line in the final quarter.

The game started with Cody Federmann scoring inside for South Ripley; and that was followed by a three-point play from Jerad Walters. Switzerland County finally got on the board with a pair of freethrows from Quinn Meyer and a jumper from Keegan Kincaid to pull within one.

Jerad Walters scored again and that was followed by another inside bucket from Cody Federmann, and at the 3:52 mark South Ripley held a 9-4 lead.

The Pacers responded, getting a basket from Adam Clark, a jumper from Chase Ritch, and a runner in the lane from Anthony Dennis to fuel a 6-0 spurt that pushed the Pacers in front by one.

But Jerad Walters wasn’t through, as the South Ripley senior would score 16 points in the opening quarter alone, including a pair of freethrows and another three-point play sandwiched around a rebound basket from Adam Clark to give the Raiders a 14-12 advantage.

Adam Clark then scored again, to tie the game, but Jerad Walters hit a three-pointer. Keegan Kincaid drew the Pacers back to within a point with six seconds left in the quarter, but again it was Jerad Walters, and his long three-point attempt at the buzzer found the range, and South Ripley went to the first break with a 20-16 lead after a frantic first eight minutes of action.

Quinn Meyer got the second quarter started with a pair of freethrows; and after Brandon Sizemore scored for the Raiders; a pair of freethrows from Keegan Kincaid made the deficit just two points, 22-20.

Brandon Sizemore hit another jumper, but that’s when the Pacer offense made another run, getting a freethrow from Adam Clark and two jumpers from Keegan Kincaid to go ahead by one with 1:47 to play in the half.

Brandon Sizemore stopped that run with another basket, but Adam Clark countered that with a bucket to again push the Pacers out in front.

The half ended with two freethrows from Brandon Sizemore, and the teams went to the lockerroom with the Raiders clinging to a 28-27 lead.

Out of the break, Switzerland County immediately grabbed the lead again on two freethrows by Adam Clark; but South Ripley got two charities from Jon Grossman and a three-pointer from Brandon Sizemore to go up by four.

Keegan Kincaid then got free for a three-pointer that closed the gap, but Jon Grossman hit a pair of freethrows to keep the deficit at three. Trevor Smith’s runner through the lane sliced the lead to one at the 3:56 mark.

Jerad Walters and Brandon Sizemore then scored on consecutive trips for the Raiders, but Adam Clark again scored inside to keep the Pacers within striking distance and was fouled on the play.

Adam Clark’s freethrow bounced free, but Quinn Meyer gobbled up the rebound and headed to the bucket, and he was fouled and awarded a pair of freethrows. He made the second, and with 1:17 to play in the third quarter, the game was 39-37 in favor of the Raiders.

Jon Grossman hit a freethrow for South Ripley; and when Keegan Kincaid hit a shot from the wing with three-seconds to play, the teams headed to the final eight minutes with South Ripley holding a 40-39 advantage.

The final period started with a bang – and a long range three-pointer from Keegan Kincaid that pushed the Pacers back in front by two.

South Ripley responded with pairs of freethrows from Brandon Sizemore and Jon Grossman; but a freethrow from Adam Clark and a pair of freethrows from Keegan Kincaid again pushed Switzerland County back in front. Moments later freshman Chase Ritch hit a three-pointer that gave the Pacers a 48-44 lead; and the Pacer faithful roared its approval with hopes of a second season victory.

It didn’t last, as South Ripley responded with a pair of freethrows from Sam Stratton and an inside bucket from Cody Federmann to tie the game at 48-48; but again Chase Ritch drilled a three-pointer and the Pacers were back in front 51-48, with 3:42 to play.

South Ripley countered, getting a freethrow from Jerad Walters and a pair of charities from Trey Sparks to tie the game with three minutes to play; but Adam Clark converted inside off of a nifty assist from Keegan Kincaid, putting the Pacers back in front.

Jon Grossman scored again to tie the game for South Ripley; but Anthony Dennis raced through the lane and made a layup to stem that run. Jon Grossman scored again with 1:55 to play, and the game was tied at 55-55.

Jerad Walters made a defensive steal and raced upcourt, and his layup at the 1:31 mark pushed South Ripley back in front 57-55; but Switzerland County tied the game again moments later when Keegan Kincaid converted two freethrow attempts.

With the game tied at 57-57, Chase Ritch was fouled and sent to the line with 1:04 to play, and the freshman converted one of his attempts – but that was the last time the Pacers would score in the game, giving South Ripley freethrow opportunities down the stretch and give the Raiders the victory, 62-58.

Keegan Kincaid led Switzerland County with 22 points on the night; while Adam Clark also had an outstanding game, finishing in double figures with 16 points.

Chase Ritch had nine points; Quinn Meyer added five; Anthony Dennis finished with four; and Trevor Smith had two.

Jerad Walters led South Ripley with 26 points; while Brandon Sizemore had 15 points and Jon Grossman was in double figures with 11.

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In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County defeated South Ripley by a 40-33 count.

Braden Burk led the Pacers with 16 points in the contest; while Hunter Jordan finished with eight and Austin Clark added seven.

Tyler Queen had five points; and Clint Swanson contributed four.