After losing eight of their last 10 games, Coach Adam Dennis’s Switzerland County Pacers needed something to go their way as their season heads into the home stretch.
That happened last Thursday night, as the Pacers traveled to Scottsburg to take on the Warriors, and came home with an exciting 52-51 victory. Switzerland County entered the contest with an overall record of 4-13; while their hosts were in the midst of a 13-3 season at game time.
But as the old saying goes — throw out the records.
Both teams came into the contest hampered by injuries. Switzerland County entered the game without starter Dalton Tingle and reserve Dallas Snider; while the Warriors were playing without junior Nicholas Sebastiao.
The Pacers injuries meant that Dennis played a six man rotation throughout the game, going to seventh man Eli Martin for a brief stint in the second quarter.
The first period got underway with Mitchell Prince connecting on a three-pointer for the Warriors; but the Pacer came right back with inside baskets by Tyler Konkle and Zach Weaver to grab a lead. Hayden Cutter, who would pose defensive problems for Switzerland County throughout the game, scored to retake the lead for Scottsburg; but again Konkle worked free, and his bucket put the Pacers in front, 6-5.
Scottsburg then went on a run, scoring seven straight points on a basket and a three-point play by Cutter and a basket by Jimmy Neace.
The basket and foul on Cutter was even more damaging for Switzerland County, because the foul was Konkle’s second, and with 2:46 to go in the first quarter, the senior forward went to the bench for the remainder of the half — even more crippling the Pacer substitution options.
Down 12-6, Switzerland County junior sharpshooter Damian Breeck took over, connecting on a jumper and then two straight three-pointers to push the Pacers back in front by a 14-12 margin.
Scottsburg worked for the final shot of the quarter, and when Neace connected on a three-pointer at the buzzer, the Warriors took a 15-14 lead into the first break.
The back and forth continued in the second stanza, as Coby Chase made two freethrows as the period opened to give the Pacers another lead; but Scottsburg came right back with baskets by Cutter and Neace. Patrick Stow hit a baseline jumper for Switzerland County; but the Warriors then went back inside to Cutter, who scored on two straight trips to give Scottsburg a 23-18 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the half.
This time it was Switzerland County’s turn to make a run, and it kicked off with Chase completing a three-point play and that was followed by a jumper from Landon Wilks.
Tied at 23-23, Cutter again went to work, making an inside basket; and as the clock wound down, the Warriors again caught a last second, buzzer beating break, as Patrick Lincoln connected as the horn sounded, and the first half ended with Scottsburg on top, 27-23.
The third quarter saw Switzerland County continue to pound the ball inside, and Weaver paid dividends, as the junior scored two straight baskets to tie the game. Treyton Owens made a freethrow for the Warriors; but the lead flip-flopped again when Chase scored off an impressive assist from Breeck.
Cutter then went back to work for the Warriors, converting a three-point play and an inside bucket to make the Scottsburg lead four points. Breeck then made two freethrows; but Neace hit a three-pointer to extend the lead to five. Weaver scored inside again for the Pacers, but Scottsburg followed that with a basket by Lincoln and a freethrow from Neace; and the lead was 39-33 with the third quarter closing.
Breeck got free in the final minute and connected on a three-pointer that cut the deficit in half, and the squads headed to the final eight minutes with Scottsburg in front by a score of 39-36.
It looked like the Warriors might pull away as the final stanza opened, as Cutter was fouled on a made basket and went to the line to complete the three-point play. Somewhere in the mix Weaver got whistled for a technical foul, which sent Owens to the line for two attempts —making one — and gave Scottsburg possession.
Down 43-36 and facing adversity in the face, the dilemma sparked the Pacers, first shutting down the Scottsburg offense and regaining possession; and then going on a run.
First came a three-point play from Konkle; and that was followed by a jumper from Breeck. When Konkle again scored inside with 5:31 remaining, the game was tied at 43-43.
It didn’t stop there.
Wilks hit a three-pointer and Konkle scored again on a reverse layup — and Switzerland County had gone from being seven points down and not having possession of the ball to being five points ahead after the 12 point run.
Cutter scored inside again to stop the run; and Brantley Deaton followed that with a basket. Weaver matched that and Konkle followed with another key bucket; and with 1:02 to go in the contest, Switzerland County half a 52-47 advantage.
The final minute would be heart-pounding for the Pacer faithful.
With 35-seconds remaining Neace hit a three-pointer that drew the Warriors to within two. Switzerland County came down and killed the clock, and Weaver got fouled with 12-seconds left. He missed the front end of the one-and-bonus, and the Warriors came downcourt with a chance to tie or win the game.
With just two seconds left, Scottsburg poured the ball inside to Cutter, who went up for a turnaround jumper in the lane that bounced off the rim — but Switzerland County was called for a foul on the play, and Cutter went to the line with two freethrow attempts.
The Warrior freshman made the first attempt; and Dennis called time to steady his troops and freeze the shooter.
It worked, as Cutter’s second try bounced off and Switzerland County grabbed the rebound. Scottsburg fouled Breeck with less than a second left on the clock, and when he missed the front end of the one-and-bonus, the clock started and ran out before Scottsburg could make any sort of attempt — and the game ended with the Pacers in front 52-51.
It was truly a balanced effort for the short-handed Pacers, as Breeck led the way with 15 points. Konkle ended the game with 13 points; and Weaver was also in double figures, finishing with 10. Chase had seven points in the victory; Wilks had five; and Stow contributed two.
Cutter led Scottsburg with 24 points on the night; while Neace was also in double figures with 14.
Following what might have been the team’s biggest win of the season, the Pacers finally get to experience some home cooking this weekend, as Switzerland County plays four of its final five games at home.
Shawe Memorial visits tomorrow (Friday) night; and then Franklin County comes to town on Saturday. On Friday, February 15, Jac-Cen-Del comes in for an important conference tilt; and then South Dearborn visits on Saturday, February 16th.
The regular season ends with a trip to Madison on Thursday, February 21st.
This year’s boys Sectional will be played at South Ripley.
In the junior varsity game, Scottsburg defeated Switzerland County by a final score of 55-34.
The Pacers were led by Eli Martin with 10 points; while Damion Courter and Ben Hicks each added five. The trio of Austin Bosaw, Bryce Turner, and Logan Bennett each had four points, and Nate Geyman had two.