Friday night was ‘Silent Night’ in the Switzerland County gym as the boys varsity team took on arch rival Rising Sun.
The concept is that all of the Pacer fans kept completely quiet until Switzerland County scored its 10th point of the game, and then pandemonium would break out. The event was held in conjunction with an effort to bring attention to Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention programs, so it was all for a good cause.
But for more than a quarter on Friday night, it really was a ‘silent night’, as the Switzerland County offense struggled to gain momentum against a deliberate, slowed down Shiner offense, and 10 points took a lot longer to get to than anyone expected.
That moment finally came at the 5:55 mark of the second quarter, and after that the Pacers slowly pulled away throughout the remainder of the game to claim a 61-49 win. The victory ran Switzerland County’s record to 4-0.
After Chase Ritch opened the game with a basket for the Pacers, Rising Sun came to its offensive end of the floor with a very deliberate plan to use patience to get good shots, and also keep the ball out of the hands of the Switzerland County high-powered offense.
Jake McClellan’s bucket tied the game; and after Braden Burk pushed the Pacers back in front with a jumper, the Shiners got a three-pointer from Austin Armstrong. After a defensive stop, Rising Sun continued to play at their speed, and when Nick Sporleder scored at the buzzer, Rising Sun had taken a 7-4 lead at the end of the quarter.
And Pacer fans were still quiet.
The second quarter opened with new Rising Sun coach Chris Jones opening up his offense a bit more, and the faster pace of play fed right into the furnace of coach B.J. McAlister’s potent offense.
Switzerland County would reel off six straight points to open the quarter on three straight buckets from Austin Clark – including the team’s 10th point which led to the capacity student body going crazy.
After Nick Sporleder scored inside to break that run; the Pacers went on another one, this time scoring nine straight points.
Riley Phagan opened the burst with a freethrow, and then followed that with a three-pointer. Austin Clark then scored inside; and then moved outside, connecting on his own three-point shot to make the score 19-9.
The Shiners responded, getting baskets from Nick Sporleder and Brady Murray to get back within six; but Braden Burk, playing inspired ball all night, hit a runner in the lane and followed that with a jumper to again push the lead to 10.
Nick Sporleder scored again inside; and as the half drew to a close, Chase Ritch drilled a long three-pointer that sent the teams to the lockerroom with Switzerland County leading 26-15.
It is that spread that held of the game, as the two teams would play basically even basketball through the final two quarters, with the Pacers outscoring the Shiners by just a 35-34 count.
T.J. White opened the second half scoring with a layup, and again Nick Sporleder scored to keep the Shiners close. Austin Clark powered to the hoop for another bucket; but Austin Armstrong hit a three-pointer to keep Rising Sun close. It got closer moments later, when while on offense T.J. White headed to the rim for a potential rebound. With other players all around, he grabbed the rim to keep from falling on others, and the referees whistled him for a technical foul.
Austin Armstrong then hit both of the resulting freethrows, and with 5:45 to play, Switzerland County’s lead was down to eight.
That didn’t last long, either.
Chase Ritch connected on a long three-pointer that pushed the lead back into double figures, and after Mitchell Morris banked home a three-pointer for Rising Sun, and then converted a pair of freethrows, the Shiners were down by just six.
It was time for another Pacer run, and Switzerland County closed the period strongly, getting another basket from Chase Ritch and a pair of freethrows from Austin Clark to close with a 37-27 lead.
Austin Clark then opened the final stanza with a basket; but Nick Sporleder converted two freethrows to keep things interesting.
Braden Burk then hit a three-pointer and T.J. White followed that with a pair of charities, and the Pacer had their lead back to 15 points, 44-29.
Rising Sun then attempted another run, getting two freethrows and a basket from Jake McClellan to get back within 11. T.J. White then scored inside to provide the Pacers with some breathing room, but the Shiners responded with two freethrows from Jack Uhlmansiek and a three-pointer from Kurtis Armstrong, and with 3:42 to go, the Shiners were within striking distance, 46-38.
Switzerland County then took over, getting a three-point play from Austin Clark and a pair of charities from Riley Phagan to get back to a double-digit lead. Shiner Austin Armstrong responded with a basket and a three-pointer; but the Pacers got two freethrows from T.J. White, a three-point play from Chase Ritch, and a basket by Tyler Gabbard to move out to a 58-43 lead with less than a minute to play.
Austin Armstrong then put on a long-range shooting clinic, hitting two long three-pointer in the closing minute to keep the outcome in doubt. Switzerland County got a freethrow from T.J. White and two freethrows from Caleb Furnish to close the game; and the Pacers again claimed the “Ruler of the River” trophy with a 61-49 win.
Austin Clark led the Pacers with 20 points; while Chase Ritch was also in double figures with 13. T.J. White and Braden Burk each added nine points to the win; while Riley Phagan had six. Tyler Gabbard and Caleb Furnish each had two points.
Austin Armstrong finished with 19 points to lead the Shiners, while Nick Sporleder had 12. Mitchell Morris had five points; Jack McClellan had four points; Kurtis Armstrong added three points; and Jake Uhlmansiek and Brady Murray each contributed two points.
In the junior varsity game, Switzerland County defeated Rising Sun by a score of 39-21.
Hunter Hayes led the way for the Pacers with 14 points; while Justin Green added nine points. Kollin Hayes had seven; Caleb Furnish added four; Zach Whitaker finished with three; and Dakota Fuller chipped in two.
Chad Wagner led Rising Sun with eight points; while Tristen Brown had seven; Angelo Gallegos had three; Adam Hensley had two; and Joseph Evans contributed one.
The Pacers now conclude the year with two road games, beginning tomorrow (Friday) night with a trip to South Ripley. Switzerland County then travels to Christian Academy of Indiana near New Albany on Saturday night; before entertaining South Central on Friday, January 3rd.
The Rivertown Classic at South Dearborn will begin for the boys on Thursday night, January 9th.