Pacers fall to Raiders 61-58

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When Switzerland County and South Ripley get together on a basketball court, you can throw out the records and the runs, because it’s going to be a nip-and-tuck, back and forth game every time.

Saturday night, on the heels of a winter storm on Friday, the teams held to that tradition, going back and forth with neither squad being able to hold a lead until the Raiders got some key freethrows late to hold off the hard-charging Pacers, 61-58.

South Ripley’s Zach Pickett opened the scoring for the night; but that was matched by Switzerland County’s talented sophomore, Damian Breeck; and after Dillan McQueen scored for the Raiders; Pacer senior Austin South countered that. Avery Halcomb then converted a three-pointer for South Ripley, but South came right back and answered that with a bucket. Bryce Franklin then scored to push the Raider lead to three, but South connected on a three-pointer that tied the game at 10-10 with 3:22 to go in the opening stanza.

South Ripley got another basket by Franklin and two freethrows from Pickett to go up by four; but Justin Chatham drilled a three-pointer from the corner to keep the Pacers close. McQueen scored inside for South Ripley; but Tyler Konkle matched that, and when South drilled a buzzer-beating three-pointer from beyond halfcourt – accounting for 10 points in the period – both teams went to the benches to catch their collective breath with Switzerland County in front, 17-15.

South Ripley made a big run to start the second quarter, with Franklin and McQueen hitting field goals followed by Cody Samples and Pickett connecting on three-pointers to make the run 10 straight points and push the Raiders up by eight, 25-17.

South then led the charge back, converting a traditional three-point play; and after McQueen scored again; it was Switzerland County’s turn to make a run.

Breeck started the fire with a three-pointer; and South followed that with two straight baskets. Kenyon Bledsoe then converted a reverse layup from underneath the bucket, and with 1:40 until halftime, Switzerland County found itself back in front, 29-27.

Halcomb immediately answered that run with a three-pointer; and when Konkle made a freethrow at the 1:05 mark, the scoring ended and the half began with the game tied, 30-30.

Konkle opened the second half at the freethrow line, this time making both attempts; but Pickett hit a field goal that again tied the game, and began a see-saw few minutes.

Kyle Whitham scored for the Pacers; and that was answered by McQueen. South and Whitham had back to back jumpers for the Pacers; but South Ripley got a three-point play by Pickett.

The Pacers then hit an offensive spurt, with Konkle making a freethrow, Breeck connecting on a runner, and Whitham making two charities to make the score 43-37 in favor of the Pacers with 2:39 left.

But it wouldn’t stand, as South Ripley ripped off a run of seven straight on a basket by McQueen, a three-point play by Pickett and a bucket by Franklin to end the period with the Raiders back on top, 44-43.

South has been Switzerland County’s rock all season, and the senior went right back to work as the final stanza opened, hitting a long three-pointer that pushed the Pacers back in front. McQueen countered that with another bucket in the paint to tie the game at 46-46; and Konkle made a freethrow followed by a basket from McQueen, which was matched by strong inside play by Whitham that again put the Pacers in front, 49-48.

South Ripley then built another run, getting a freethrow by Pickett; a basket by Halcomb, and a bucket from McQueen to take a 53-49 lead with 2:27 to go.

South made two freethrows to bring Switzerland County to within two; but the Raiders got a jumper from Franklin and a freethrow by Samples to again push out to a five point bulge.

Konkle scored inside on a power move to slice the lead to three; but Samples again went to the line, this time making both attempts, and with a minute to go, South Ripley held a 58-53 lead.

Breeck, playing a key role all season, came down and drilled a three-pointer with 53-seconds to go that got the Pacers within two; and after McQueen made a freethrow, Konkle again scored inside to make the score 59-58 with 13-secodns to go, and brought fans from both squads to their feet.

With nine seconds left, a Pacer foul sent Halcomb to the line; and after he made the first attempt, his second shot bounced off, but the Raiders grabbed the offensive rebound and called timeout to settle their squad down.

Switzerland County was forced to foul Pickett with just five ticks remaining, and when he converted just one of his attempts, the Pacers fell in a heart-breaker, 61-58.

South led Switzerland County as he has most of the season with 24 points; and he also had four rebounds. Konkle finished with 11 points on the night and added three rebounds; and Breeck finished in double figures, with 10 points, and he had a team-high six rebounds.

Whitham finished with eight points – all in the second half – as well as a pair of key rebounds; Chatham had three points; and Bledsoe had two points.

South Ripley was led by McQueen with 19; Pickett had 17; and Franklin was in double figures with 10.

In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County defeated South Ripley by a final score of 51-33. Leading the way for the Pacers was Doug Pedraza with 16 points; while Coby Chase had 13 points and Zach Weaver was in double figures with 12. Patrick Stow added seven points; Damian Courter had two; and Landon Wilks finished with one point.