The Switzerland County Pacer varsity boys basketball team battled early but couldn’t keep up with a fast-paced South Ripley squad, falling to the Raiders last Thursday night by a final score of 73-56.
The Pacers stayed close in the first period, mainly on the strength of junior Tyler Konkle, who accounted for nine points in the opening stanza. Austin South also had four points in the opening eight minutes; and Justin Chatham added a freethrow.
Down 4-3 early, South Ripley had a run of six straight points; but the Pacers came right back with four straight to close to within three. Back came the Raiders, who got strong play from senior Avery Halcomb, who had six points early; and four points from Dillon McQueen. A pair of freethrows by South Ripley’s Bryce Franklin pushed the Raiders in front after the opening period by a score of 18-14.
The second quarter saw South Ripley pull away, but the period started with a long range shooting exhibition.
Halcomb hit a three; but that was countered by treys from South and Chatham. Those were matched by three-pointers from McQueen and Halcomb, and halfway through the quarter the Raiders held a 27-20 advantage.
Damian Breeck scored on a runner to stop that run; but South Ripley got two straight buckets by Aaron Greiwe and Franklin to extend the lead to nine.
Pacer Cade Rider connected on a three-pointer; but Halcomb came right back inside to keep the Pacers from making a run. Konkle made a pair of freethrows; but Zach Pickett matched those, keeping Switzerland County from making a run. After South made two freethrows, South Ripley closed the half with a basket by Pickett and a last-second three-pointer by Greiwe, and the teams went to the break with the hosts holding a 40-29 lead.
Konkle continued his outstanding play as the second half opened, scoring six straight points on a three-pointer, a freethrow, and a field goal. That drew the Pacers to within five; but Switzerland County couldn’t sustain the run defensively, as South Ripley came right back with five straight points on a three-pointer and a basket by Cody Samples.
Kyle Whitham got on track with a basket; but Pickett scored to close the quarter, and with eight minutes to play, South Ripley held a 53-42 lead.
Whitham opened the final period with a basket; and Konkle followed that with a bucket inside that drew Switzerland County to within seven, 53-46.
The game went back and forth from there, as McQueen scored for the Raiders; which was followed by a basket by Breeck; which was followed by a three-pointer from Samples. South scored; but that was matched by Greiwe; and when South scored again, the score stood at 60-52 in favor of South Ripley with just over three minutes to go.
South Ripley then went on another run, scoring seven straight points to give the Raiders some breathing room, going up by a 67-52 count.
Breeck broke that run with a basket; but Samples hit two freethrows; which were matched by a pair of charities by South.
The Raiders closed the game by going 4-for-6 from the freethrow line, and the final margin was 17 points, 73-56.
South led Switzerland County with 20 points, including four field goals; two three-pointers, and the senior was a perfect 6-for-6 from the freethrow line. South was balanced, scoring nine points in the first half and 11 in the second.
Konkle also had a sold night, finishing with 19 points. His line was nearly identical to South’s, as Konkle had four field goals, two three-pointers, and was 5-for-6 from the line.
Breeck had six points on the night; while Chatham and Whitham each added four. Rider had the other three.
South Ripley had strong offensive balance, led by Pickett with 20. Halcomb had 17; while both McQueen and Samples finished in double figures with 11.
The loss was the second in as many starts early for the Pacers, who now host rival Rising Sun tomorrow (Friday) night at home. The game is the “Silent Night” game, which will feature a collection from fans for a local charity. Everyone is invited to wear Christmas attire for the game.
Switzerland County then travels to East Central to take on the Trojans this Saturday night, December 9th. The game was supposed to open the season, but East Central had to move the game because of its participation in the IHSAA State Football Tournament. The junior varsity game will start at 6 p.m.
In the junior varsity game, South Ripley defeated Switzerland County 40-37.
The Pacers were led by Zach Weaver with 12 points; with Coby Chase finishing with seven. Doug Pedraza added six points; Cade Rider had five points; Landon Wilks had three points; and both Patrick Stow and Rio Paragallo each had two.