Pacers hang on late for big conference win over South Ripley

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In a split second, it was every Pacer fan’s worst nightmare.

Thankfully, the nightmare didn’t become a reality.

Clinging to a two-point lead with three seconds to play, Switzerland County fans were excited as South Ripley inbounded the ball underneath the Pacer basket. A Daniel Welch freethrow had given the Pacers the two-point lead, and after a Raider timeout, South Ripley would have to go the length of the floor with nearly no time and still get a shot off.

Erik Demaree threw the ball past midcourt for the Raiders, and Pacer Mark Sharp jumped high into the air to knock down the pass.

Game over, right?

Wrong.

The ball bounced straight to South Ripley sharpshooter B.J. Sieverding, who lined up a three-pointer and let the jumper fly just as the buzzer sounded.

The collective gasp of Pacer fans may have impacted the air flow in the gym, but for whatever reason the attempt bounced off the back of the rim, and Switzerland County moved closer to a conference championship with a 48-46 victory.

“I thought it was a big win for us,” Pacer coach Brian Bowen said. “South Ripley, despite winning only four games this year, is playing a lot better now than they were early in the year. They are a very difficult team to beat.”

The Pacer coach hailed his entire team for the win, noting that Kyle Green, the leading scorer in the conference, didn’t have his best shooting night, finishing with just nine points; but help came from other players.

“We had other guys who really stepped up and made crucial plays for us both offensively and defensively,” Coach Bowen said. “I thought Devon Armstrong had some big baskets for us; and I thought Mark Sharp had some big baskets for us.”

The one basket that most fans carried away from the Switzerland County gym happened with one second remaining in the first half, as Switzerland County inbounded the ball from in front of its own bench – three-quarters of the court away from their basket.

Down by two, 21-19, sophomore Travis Tackett caught the inbound pass and heaved the ball toward the basket.

The prayer was answered seconds later, as the horn sounded and the ball ripped through the net, giving Switzerland County a 22-21 lead at the half.

“Tackett’s basket at the end of the second quarter turned out to be a very big basket,” Coach Bowen said with a smile.

Even though he had a rough night shooting the ball, Kyle Green did respond in crunch time, scoring two baskets at the end of the game to help seal the win.

“Kyle came on late for us, and that was big,” Brian Bowen said.

Mark Sharp led Switzerland County with 12 points; while Devon Armstrong finished with 10. Clay Meyer and Travis Tackett had five points each; Brennan Bragg had four; Brandon Otter had two; and Daniel Welch chipped in one.

Trent Tucker led South Ripley with 19 points; while B.J. Sieverding added 11.

Switzerland County returns to action tonight (Thursday) when the Pacers travel to Lawrenceburg. The Tigers are the defending sectional champions and are currently posting a record of 14-3 – losing to East Central and twice to Batesville.

One big question mark for Switzerland County will be sophomore Brennan Bragg, who rolled his ankle at practice on Monday and will be a game time decision for the Pacers.

On the horizon is a showdown with Jac-Cen-Del next Thursday night. With the Pacers standing at 5-0 in conference play, a win over the Eagles would give Switzerland County the outright conference championship.

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The junior varsity team defeated South Ripley by a score of 35-32.

Travis Tackett led the Pacers with 14 points; while Justin Reagan was also in double figures with 10 points.

Tray Meyer had four points; Noah Hughes had three points; and Danny Schira and Kameron Pavy each had two points.