The senior duo of Austin Clark and Chase Ritch combined to score 46 points to power Switzerland County to its 16th victory of the season Saturday night, a 68-49 win over South Dearborn.
The win also vaulted the Pacers back onto the statewide stage, as Switzerland County is ranked #14 in the Class 2A poll heading into tomorrow (Friday) night’s home finale against Madison.
The game opened with a three-pointer by Chase Ritch – the first of six that the senior would make in the contest.
South Dearborn’s Blake Kirkey then made two freethrows, and Ben Curran matched that with a runner in the lane. When the Knight’s Ian Rutzel hit a three-pointer, the game was tied at 5-5 early.
Tyler Gabbard broke that tie with another three-pointer for the Pacers; and Noah Gaines hit a short jumper to keep South Dearborn close.
Switzerland County closed the quarter on a run, getting a basket from Austin Clark, a freethrow by T.J. White, and a three-pointer from Chase Ritch to push out to a 14-7 lead at the first break.
The second quarter kicked off with South Dearborn getting a three-pointer from Jeff Wohlfrom and a basket by Blake Kirkey to quickly get back within two; but again Switzerland County countered with a big run.
T.J. White kick started the spurt with a basket; and that was followed by a three-point play by Austin Clark. The senior then followed that with another basket; and Riley Phagan capped the run with a three-pointer to make the lead 24-12.
The Knights countered with a run of 10 points, fueled by two three-pointers from Drew Lewis.
Up just two, Austin Clark went back to work, converting another three-point play as South Dearborn searched for answers on how to stop him inside.
When Chase Ritch hit his third three-pointer of the half at the buzzer, the Pacers headed to the lockerroom holding a 30-22 advantage.
The lead widened in the third quarter, as Chase Ritch opened the half with another three-pointer, and T.J. White hit another short jumper. Ian Rutzel hit a three-pointer for the Knights to get them back within 10; but again T.J. White muscled his way to the hoop for the Pacers.
Another South Dearborn basket was matched by Austin Clark; and then the Knights got baskets from Noah Gaines and Drew Lewis to get back within eight.
Switzerland County regained control, getting two freethrows from Austin Clark and a three-pointer by Chase Ritch; and after Blake Kirkey scored for the Knights, a buzzer-beating basket inside by Austin Clark closed the period with the Pacers on top, 46-33.
The final quarter opened with Blake Kirkey making a freethrow for South Dearborn; but T.J. White scored inside and Austin Clark followed that with a bucket, and the lead was up to 16.
Ian Rutzel answered for the Knights with a three-pointer; but again Austin Clark powered to the bucket and converted another three-point play.
Noah Gaines then scored for South Dearborn, and on the ensuing possession, the Pacers attempted an alley-oop dunk pass to T.J. White, who hung on the rim after the ball missed its target, and the officials whistled him for a technical foul.
South Dearborn couldn’t take advantage, however, as the Knights got just one point from the resulting two freethrows and possession of the basketball.
The Pacers then slowed the tempo, working for good shots or forcing South Dearborn to commit fouls.
Ben Curran made a freethrow; Chase Ritch hit a three-pointer; Austin Clark scored inside; and Chase Ritch made a freethrow to extend the lead to 20,, 60-40, with 1:39 to play.
South Dearborn got a three-pointer by Dennis Crawford; but Switzerland County countered with pairs of freethrows from Austin Clark and Chase Ritch. After Ian Rutzel hit another three-pointer; the game scoring closed for the Pacers with Tyler Gabbard and Dakota Fuller each hitting a pair of freethrows. Jeff Wohlfrom hit a meaningless three-point play at the end of the game, and Switzerland County won its 16th game of the year, 68-49.
Austin Clark led all scorers with 25 points in the game; while Chase Ritch used his six three-pointers to finish with 21 points.
T.J. White had nine points; Ben Curran and Riley Phagan each had three points; and Dakota Fuller added two points.
In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County defeated South Dearborn by a score of 52-41.
Justin Green led the Pacers in scoring with 16 points; Dakota Fuller was in double figures with 12 points; and Caleb Furnish finished with 10 points.
Zach Whitaker had six points; Alessandro Famulari had five points; and Brody Splain, Hunter Hayes, and James Crabtree each added one point.