The largest crowd of the season greeted the Switzerland County Pacers as they entered their home gym for last Friday night’s Homecoming match up with conference leading Jac-Cen-Del — and for awhile the enthusiasm of that crowd sparked the Pacer offense; but in the end the Eagles simply made too many freethrows for the Pacers to overcome.
The final score was Jac-Cen-Del 60, Switzerland County 44.
Although the game ended with a 16-point deficit, it was a much closer contest than the final score would show. The game was closely-fought through the first three quarters, with the Pacers holding leads at the end of the first and second periods; while the Eagles jumped in front by the end of the third quarter.
The Pacers raced out early, scoring the first seven points of the game on baskets by Mat Deaton and Travis Webster and a basket and a freethrow by B.J. Shelton. After Tyler Einhaus scored for the Eagles to temporarily stop the run, Switzerland County reeled off five more points — four on two buckets by Mat Deaton and the other on a Cody Peters freethrow.
Jac-Cen-Del settled itself with a basket from Adam Peetz; but Travis Webster matched that to give the Pacers a 10-point lead. The Eagles then showed why they are ranked among the state’s best, getting two freethrows from Tyler Einhaus and a last-second jumper from Kyle Horan to close to within six at 14-8 by the end of the first period.
Mat Deaton continued his outstanding play as the second period got underway, scoring inside to increase the lead to eight. Those would be the last points that Switzerland County would score over the next four minutes, however, as the Eagles ran off seven straight points to get within one.
Mat Deaton broke the cold streak with another inside basket at the 2:50 mark in the period; but two more freethrows from Derek Jones kept Jac-Cen-Del within a point.
The Pacers responded with a jumper from Chancey May and a freethrow from Josh Snow; and when Cody Peters connected on a runner in the lane with 1:27 to play, Switzerland County had pulled back out to a six-point lead.
After Adam Peetz made a freethrow for Jac-Cen-Del, Pacer Josh Reagan was fouled and when to the line for the one-and-bonus with 20-seconds to play.
The senior missed the front end of the charities, but Chancey May swept in and grabbed the offensive rebound, and his put back was true, extending the lead to seven points.
Jac-Cen-Del didn’t panic, and with a second left before halftime, Kyle Horan’s jumper made the score 25-20 in favor of the Pacers after one half of play.
Jac-Cen-Del came out in the third period determined to establish their style of play; and when Adam Peetz hit a three-pointer and Derek Jones followed that with a jumper, suddenly the game was tied.
Switzerland County responded with a basket from Cody Peters to cling to the lead; and after a defensive stand a baseline runner by B.J. Shelton extended the advantage back to four.
Adam Peetz then made his second three-pointer; and that was followed by baskets from Derek Jones and Adam Peetz that pushed Jac-Cen-Del out in front by three.
Ben Hickman answered that with an inside move for two points; and after Eagle Justin Huff missed two freethrows, a three-pointer by Chancey May allowed the Pacers to creep back in front by two with 2:52 to play.
While Switzerland County was answering every challenge offensively, the game was taking its toll on the defensive end, as Mat Deaton, Chancey May, B.J. Shelton, and Travis Webster would all be forced to the bench in foul trouble during the third quarter.
Jac-Cen-Del responded by outscoring Switzerland County 11-4 over the final two minutes, taking a 43-38 lead into the final quarter.
Ben Hickman opened the final stanza with a basket that got the Pacers within three, but again Switzerland County would go cold offensively from there, going more than four minutes before they would score again.
Jac-Cen-Del meanwhile got two three-pointers from Adam Peetz to go with pairs of freethrows from Kyle Horan and Derek Jones to take control of the game. Mat Deaton finally broke the offensive slide for the Pacers with a basket, but it only got Switzerland County to within 11 at 53-42 — and with just three minutes to play, the Pacer hopes were running out.
Jac-Cen-Del closed the game shooting five-for-six from the freethrow line to go with another basket by Kyle Horan; and on the other side Switzerland County could only manage two more points, those coming on a jumper in the lane by B. J. Shelton.
The difference may very well have been at the freethrow line, where the Pacers were just 3-of-7; while the Eagles were 20-of-29 — a difference of 17 points in a game that saw a 16 point difference on the scoreboard.
The Pacers were led by Mat Deaton’s 12 points; while Chancey May and B.J. Shelton finished with seven each. Travis Webster added six points; Cody Peters had five; Ben Hickman contributed four; and Josh Snow chipped in three.
Jac-Cen-Del was led by Adam Peetz with 20 points; while Tyler Einhaus and Kyle Horan had 11 each and Derek Jones was also in double figures with 10.