Pacers put three in double figures but can’t convert at key times, suffer season’s first loss

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In a building filled with people in pink, the Switzerland County Pacer boys varsity basketball team found itself red-faced last Friday night, as the squad lost its first game of the season by a final score of 53-51.

The game was a special night, as fans from both Switzerland County and Rising Sun wore pink in honor of Laci Daugherty. The Pacer cheerleader is the girlfriend of Shiner guard Michael Lovern, and is still recovering from injuries that she received in an automobile accident on August 4th.

Last Thursday was Laci Daugherty’s 18th birthday, and the fans all wore pink to celebrate. Shiner basketball coach Brian Graham presented Laci’s parents, Rick and Debi Daugherty, with $1,800 that was raised as part of a fundraiser by the Rising Sun basketball team.

In a gym filled with emotion, it was the Shiners who struck first, jumping out to a 10-4 lead halfway through the first quarter. The Pacers fought back to within three points when Clay Meyer connected on a freethrow with 2:16 left, but that was the end of the scoring for the period, and the Shiners went to the break with a 10-7 lead.

Foul trouble saddled the Pacers in the second period, as senior point guard Mark Sharp got his second foul of the game at the end of the first period and sat out the entire second quarter. His backup, junior Noah Hughes, was hit with his second foul of the game just 37-seconds into the second stanza – bringing backup guard Alec McAlpine into the contest.

Rising Sun scored two straight baskets to take a 14-7 lead; but the Pacers scored to snap the streak. After Michael Lovern scored to push the lead back to seven; a pair of freethrows by Kyle Green brought the Pacers to within five, 16-11, at the 5:17 mark.

Kyle Green scored again to cut the lead to three, and Travis Tackett then cut into the deficit further with a pair of freethrows. Both teams then exchanged baskets; and a three-pointer by Michael Lovern with just under a minute to play in the half extended Rising Sun’s lead to 23-17.

Travis Tackett’s jumper at the buzzer sent the teams to the lockerroom with Rising Sun holding a 23-19 lead.

Switzerland County came out of the halftime break on fire offensively, getting a bucket by Brennan Bragg on an outstanding assist by Mark Sharp – who had returned for the third quarter.

With 6:51 to play in the quarter, Mark Sharp nailed a three-pointer to give Switzerland County its first lead of the game, 24-23.

That lead didn’t last a minute, as Tyler Banschbach hit a jumper to push Rising Sun back in front – but an inside bucket by Brennan Bragg returned the lead to Switzerland County. Rising Sun countered again; but Kyle Green converted a pair of freethrows to give the Pacers a 28-27 lead.

It would be the last lead that Switzerland County would hold in the game.

Tyler Banschbach and Nathan Adams both scored for Rising Sun to retake a three-point lead; but Brennan Bragg came back with a freethrow to keep the game close. Rising Sun’s Logan Jackson then hit a huge three-pointer; and a Nathan Adams basket moments later made the lead 36-29.

Switzerland County, meanwhile, was mired in a scoring drought that last nearly three minutes; coming to a halt when Brennan Bragg scored again with 35-seconds to play.

That set the stage for perhaps the most controversial moment of the contest.

With 31-seconds to play in the quarter and Rising Sun racing downcourt on offense, one of the officials suddenly stopped and whistled Pacer coach Brian Bowen with a technical foul. As the Pacer boss tried to plead his case, the referee refused to even tell Coach Bowen why he got the technical, instead he chose to stand on the other end of the court .

The call energized the Shiner crowd and sent the Pacer faithful into a funk. Michael Lovern converted both of the technical freethrows; and with Rising Sun also getting possession of the ball, a jumper by Tyler Banschbach with 15-seconds left gave the Shiners a 40-31 lead.

Racing upcourt, Switzerland County poured the ball inside to Brennan Bragg, and the junior converted at the end of the period to send both teams to the bench with Rising Sun holding a 40-33 lead.

With the Pacer offense in disarray, Rising Sun came out of the break pushing the tempo, eventually taking a 10-point lead, 45-35, with 6:42 to play.

Mark Sharp converted a freethrow to get the deficit back in single digits; and that was the start of one last Pacer run.

Kyle Green made two freethrows; and that was followed by a leaner in the lane by Mark Sharp. Clay Meyer then made a freethrow; and when Mark Sharp made another freethrow with 3:35 to play, the Pacers had scored seven straight points and cut the lead to 45-42.

Rising Sun’s Zeph Vaughn then converted inside to get the Shiners back on track; but that was matched by a basket by Mark Sharp.

With time running out, Rising Sun’s Tyler Banschbach was whistled with an offensive foul, giving the ball back to the Pacers – but Switzerland County couldn’t convert on the offensive end.

With 1:15 to play Kyle Green made two more freethrows to draw Switzerland County to within one, 47-46; and Rising Sun called a full timeout to try and settle their squad.

Another controversial moment came with 1:05 to play, when Rising Sun’s Tyler Banschbach drove to the basket and collided with Pacer Clay Meyer. As one official called an offensive foul, one of the other referees overruled the call and instead assessed the foul to Clay Meyer.

Karma seemed to be in play, however, as Tyler Banschbach missed both freethrow attempts.

But again the Pacers couldn’t convert offensively, and when Michael Lovern hit a huge jumper with 37-seconds to play, Rising Sun squeaked out to a three-point lead.

Still fighting, Mark Sharp made a pair of freethrows with 28-seconds to play to again pull the Pacers to within one; but Tyler Banschbach then answered those with two freethrows with just 19-seconds to play.

Down three, Switzerland County came downcourt with a chance to tie with a three-pointer; but Kyle Green’s attempt rimmed in and out, as the Shiners pulled down the rebound. Switzerland County then fouled Michael Lovern, who made both charities to give the Shiners a 53-48 lead at the five-second mark.

Switzerland County pushed the tempo, racing to get another offensive chance, and Mark Sharp’s three-pointer found the range at the buzzer, but it was too little, too late, as Rising Sun won by a final score of 53-51.

The victory also brought the “Ruler of the River” trophy home to Rising Sun for only the second time in 10 showdowns. The traveling trophy is awarded to the winner of the Switzerland County-Rising Sun varsity boys and girls games each year.

The Pacers had three players in double figures, with Mark Sharp leading the way with 16 points. Kyle Green had 14 points in the contest; and Brennan Bragg finished with 11 points and added six rebounds.

Clay Meyer finished with five points; Travis Tackett added three; and Kameron Pavy contributed two points.

Rising Sun also had three players in double figures: Tyler Banschbach had 15 points; Michael Lovern had 13 points; and Logan Jackson finished with 12.

The Pacers suffered from poor shooting throughout the night, converting just 15-for-52 (28.8-percent) from the floor. Switzerland County also had an average night from the freethrow line, making 19-for-26 attempts (73.1-percent). They also outrebounded the Shiners by a 41-19 count.

Rising Sun was 20-for-36 shooting from the floor (55.6-percent); but had a poor night from the freethrow line, going 7-for-12 (58.3-percent).

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The Pacer junior varsity basketball team upped its record to 4-1 overall with a 46-42 victory over Rising Sun.

Freshman Keegan Kincaid led the way for the Pacers, finishing with 21 points while adding eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

Danny Schira added six points, six rebounds, and one steal; Blake Whitham had five points; Tanner Ross had four points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal; and Tray Meyer had four points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

Alec McAlpine finished with three points and a rebound in limited jayvee time; Adam Clark had two points, one assist, and two steals; and Josh Hon added one point, one rebound, one assist, and one steal to the victory.

The Pacers return to action this weekend when they travel to South Dearborn tomorrow (Friday) night; and then host South Ripley on Saturday night.