There is an old adage that says, “Don’t grade it, just count it.”
For a team in search of a win after losing five straight games, the Switzerland County Pacer varsity basketball team will count Friday night’s 34-32 win over Southwestern - even if it wasn’t very pretty to watch.
Neither team could mount much of an offensive run during the game, but Switzerland County did just enough in the second and third quarters, and then held on for dear life at the end of the contest as the Rebels couldn’t get a shot off at the buzzer that could have tied the game.
The Pacers got off to a slow start, managing only five points in the opening quarter, while Southwestern had 10 points and got their crowd into the matchup.
Riley Phagan opened the scoring with a jumper for the Pacers; but Southwestern followed that with a run of seven straight points.
Hunter Hayes battled inside for a basket; and after Colten Shepherd made a freethrow, Hunter Hayes went to the line and converted one attempt. A last second bucket by Colten Shepherd gave the Rebels a 10-5 lead at the first break.
After Colten Shepherd scored again to open the second stanza and push the Southwestern lead up to seven; Switzerland County’s offense began to show some signs of life.
Hunter Hayes scored inside; and that was followed by a pair of freethrows from Kollin Hayes and a basket by Caleb Furnish – narrowing the deficit down to just one with 2:48 to go in the half.
Christian Balboa drilled a three-pointer for the Rebels to extend their lead back to four; but Ben Curran maneuvered his way through traffic and scored that cut the lead in half. Southwestern’s Coleman Jones then hit a three-pointer making the lead five; but Hunter Hayes continued to control the lane, scoring again to make the score 18-15 in favor of Southwestern with a minute to play.
Switzerland County dodged a bullet seconds later, as senior Ben Curran went down in a pile and appeared to suffer an ankle injury. He was helped off of the court and did not return for the remainder of the second quarter, but did assume his usual starting spot to begin the second half.
Neither team scored in that last minute, and Southwestern maintained its three-point lead into the halftime break.
Switzerland County came out smoking in the third quarter, getting baskets from Kollin Hayes and Riley Phagan along with a three-pointer from Caleb Furnish to jump out to a quick 22-18 lead. Alex Ball converted a freethrow to stop the run momentarily; but Switzerland County bounced right back with baskets from Kollin Hayes and Hunter Hayes to push the lead up to seven, 26-19.
Tyler Ashby closed the third quarter with two freethrows, and with eight minutes to play, Switzerland County held a 26-21 lead.
The Pacers opened the lead up a bit more as the final quarter got underway when Riley Phagan’s three-pointer found the range; but Southwestern came right back with baskets from Trysten Wheatley and Derrick Bell to bring the deficit down to four.
Riley Phagan then hit another huge three-pointer; but Christian Balboa matched that with his second three-pointer of the game, and the lead was down to four.
With 25-seconds to go, Southwestern got a breath of life when Coleman Jones was fouled on his shot attempt, which found the range, sending the freshman to the line with a chance to cut the lead down to one.
His attempt bounced free, however, and Switzerland County came downcourt trying to protect its lead.
Riley Phagan was fouled with 19-seconds to go and Switzerland County holding a 32-30 lead; and when the front half of his one-and-bonus attempt bounced off, Hunter Hayes pulled down a huge rebound, which forced Southwestern to foul him.
The sophomore center made both of his attempts to extend the lead up to four; but the Rebels raced downcourt and Tyler Ashby hit a runner with 11-seconds to go that brought the lead down to two.
Southwestern then fouled Kollin Hayes with nine seconds remaining; and when his first freethrow attempt bounced off, Southwestern grabbed the rebound and raced up court for an attempt to tie or win the game.
But Southwestern didn’t have any timeouts remaining, and without being able to set a play, the buzzer sounded before the Rebels could get off a shot.
Final score: Switzerland County 34, Southwestern 32.
Hunter Hayes had 11 points to lead Switzerland County, and also finished with nine rebounds to barely miss out on a double-double.
Riley Phagan was also in double figures with 10; while Kollin Hayes added six; Caleb Furnish had five; and Ben Curran contributed two.
Southwestern was led by Coleman Jones with eight; Colten Shepherd with seven; and Christian Balboa had six.
The junior varsity game saw Switzerland County defeat Southwestern 45-33.
Dolan Springer had 15 points and five rebounds to lead the way for the Pacers; while Austin South had eight points and four rebounds.
Kyle Whitham added five points and three rebounds; Casper Stow also had five points and two rebounds; and Zack Wainscott had five points and six boards.
Justin Chatham had four points; and Jacob Turner had three points and two steals.