The Switzerland County Pacer varsity basketball team battled Class 3A Franklin County on Saturday night; and the third quarter made the difference as the Wildcats returned home with a 51-45 victory.
Franklin County got on the board first with a three-pointer by Bridger Bolos; but junior Pacer forward Zach Weaver came right back with a bucket inside. Bolos connected on a jumper; but Patrick Stow followed that with a three-pointer, and the game was tied at 5-5 just under the midway point.
Bolos stayed hot early, hitting his second three-pointer of the quarter; but Stow made a steal and converted the layup to keep things close. Lucas Stacy scored inside for Franklin County; but Tyler Konkle made both freethrows to erase that. In the final seconds, Franklin County’s Aden Gerrian hit a three-pointer, and that pushed the visitors out to a 13-9 lead after one period.
The Pacers opened the second quarter on a hot streak, as Dalton Tingle and Coby Chase both scored to knot the game, and when Tingle scored again, the Pacers had their first lead of the contest, 15-13.
The Wildcats responded, getting pairs of freethrows from Stacy and Jordan Floyd to again take the lead, but Weaver got free inside again, and his basket again tied the contest. A freethrow by Konkle then gave Switzerland County another lead.
Switzerland County played much of the second period without star guard Damian Breeck. The focus of intense Wildcat defense, Breeck got whistled for his second foul at the 6:20 mark, and spent the rest of the half on the bench.
Floyd scored again for the Wildcats; but Weaver continued the back-and-forth with his second bucket of the quarter — and at the two minute mark, the Pacers held a 20-19 advantage.
Franklin County would control those final two minutes, however, as Brady Bogan connected on a three-pointer and Chad Cox followed that with a basket, and the half came to a close with the Wildcats on top, 24-20.
It was the third quarter that tilted the game, as the Pacers came out of the break a little sluggish.
After Bolos opened the half with a field goal, Breeck got his game rolling, hitting a three-pointer that closed the gap to three.
Franklin County then went on a run, as Stacy scored inside and Floyd hit two straight three-pointers. Breeck scored to temporarily break the streak; but Floyd then hit his third trey of the period to extend the lead up to 12. Weaver made a freethrow for the Pacers; but again it was Floyd, this time connecting on a two-pointer.
Stow ended the rough third on a good note with a three-pointer for the Pacers, but with just one quarter to go, Franklin County had moved out to a 10-point lead, 39-29.
The lead grew as the final stanza got underway, as Bolos and Floyd both made baskets to extend the lead to 14 — but that was when the Pacers decided to make their move.
Tingle started the run with a short jumper; and that was followed by a freethrow from Konkle. Breeck then took over again, hitting a field goal and following that with a three-pointer; and when the junior moments later made a steal and converted it into a layup, he had scored seven straight of a 10-point Switzerland County run, and with 3:41 to go, the Pacers now trailed by just four points, 43-39.
After a Franklin County timeout, Cox scored for the Wildcats; but the Pacers then had their chance to really make things close — but freethrow shooting let them down.
At the 2:34 mark, Weaver was fouled, and managed to make one of two. At the 2:10 mark, Tingle was fouled and went to the line for the one-and-bonus — but his first attempt bounced off. Working hard inside, Konkle grabbed the offensive rebound and he was fouled sending him to the line, but he managed just one of his two attempts, and the lead remained at four.
Running time off of the clock, Franklin County caught a huge break moments later.
Stacy was fouled as he converted a basket, and went to the line for a chance to complete the three-point play. His freethrow attempt bounced off, but Floyd grabbed the offensive rebound, moved the ball back outside, and allowed the Wildcats to eat away even more of the clock.
At the 1:24 mark, Konkle got hit with his fifth foul of the game, sending the senior to the bench as Stacy went to the line for a pair of charities. The Pacers then caught a break as he missed both attempts — but again the Wildcats grabbed the offensive rebound, and Floyd was then fouled at the 1:13 mark, and he made one of his attempts to make the lead seven, 48-41.
Weaver then scored inside for the Pacers to narrow the lead to five; and the Pacers fouled to stop the clock and get the ball back.
With 40-seconds left, Bolos went to the line for two freethrows, and the sophomore missed both attempts — but again bad luck showered the Pacers, as Tanner Walsh grabbed the rebound off of the second miss and made the put back to make the score 50-43.
Breeck raced downcourt and drilled a jumper to cut the lead to five; and after a Pacer timeout, it was time for another critical key moment in the contest.
With 16-seconds left, Weaver made a steal and pushed the ball ahead to Landon Wilks, who raced through the lane for a contested layup. As the ball went through the net and bodies hit the floor, whistles blew and it appeared that Wilks would go to the line for a chance to complete a three-point play.
That didn’t happen, as referees called an offensive foul on Wilks — erasing the basket and the possible freethrow attempt and giving possession back to the Wildcats.
Poor freethrow shooting also visited Franklin County, as Stow fouled Stacy with 13-seconds left to stop the clock, and the Wildcat forward missed both of his attempts — again giving the Pacers life.
Switzerland County couldn’t take advantage, and when Bolos made one of two attempts with :01.6-seconds left, it provided the final margin of victory for the Wildcats, 51-45.
It was a tough loss for the Pacers, who have been playing better as Sectional play nears. Breeck led the way with 14 points in the game; while Weaver was also in double figures with 10.
Stow had eight points on the night; Tingle finished with six; Konkle added five; and Chase chipped in two..
Franklin County was led by Floyd with 17; and Bolos had 13.
Switzerland County now heads into its final three regular season games beginning tomorrow (Friday) night when conference foe Jac-Cen-Del visits. That will be followed by Senior Night on Saturday with a home game against South Dearborn in which Tyler Konkle and Dalton Tingle will be honored. The final regular season game is next Thursday, February 21st, as Switzerland County travels to Madison for a showdown with the Cubs.
In Saturday night’s junior varsity game, Franklin County defeated Switzerland County 42-31.
Leading the Pacers was Bryce Turner with 16 points; and Eli Martin had 12. Damion Courter had two points; and Nate Geyman added one.