Saturday evening was a cold, snowy night, a good time to stay indoors and warm. For the Switzerland County Lady Pacer varsity basketball team, Saturday meant a trip to Madison to take on the Shawe Memorial Hilltoppers; and after thawing out from the cold bus ride; the Lady Pacers got rolling in the second half and claimed a 5-45 win.
It was a back and forth game throughout the first half, as Switzerland County’s Jody Breeck got the scoring rolling inside; but Shawe’s star player, Kate Grote, came right back with a three-pointer that gave the Lady Hilltoppers the early lead. Lexi Lay then scored for Switzerland County to make the lead 4-3; but Shawe got a bucket from Erin Cooper to retake the lead.
Breeck scored again to make the score 6-5, but that would be the final time that Switzerland County would hold the advantage until the final quarter.
Megan Hesse scored inside for the Lady Hilltoppers, and Grote followed that with two freethrows, and a late bucket by Switzerland County’s Keirstan Oeffinger made the score 9-8 in favor of Shawe after one quarter.
Grote pushed the lead to three as the second stanza opened; but McKenli Scudder answered that with a jumper. Grote then completed a traditional three-point play; but Lay again scored to keep the Lady Hilltoppers from moving out to a wider lead. Grote followed that with a three-pointer, and Cooper had another basket, and with two minutes to play in the half, Shawe held a 19-12 lead.
The Lady Pacers closed the half with a small run, getting baskets by Breeck and Lay, and at the half Shawe led by a score of 19-16.
Even with the slow start, and the fact that Lady Pacer star Aleiah Thomas did not score in the first half, Switzerland County was still very much in the game, trailing by just three points.
Switzerland County narrowed that deficit to one as the third quarter got underway with Thomas getting on the board with two freethrows. Shawe rebounded with a run of six straight on a basket by Hesse and two more from Grote.
Again facing a seven-point deficit, Switzerland County answered with baskets by Kinsley Griffith and Breeck; and after Grote made a freethrow, a basket by Calleigh Powell drew the Lady Pacers to within two.
Grote made two freethrows; but the quarter ended with a Switzerland County run, as Thomas hit a runner and Lay made two freethrows, and at the end of three periods, the game was tied at 28-28.
That run set Switzerland County up for a big final quarter, that saw them steadily pull away for the win.
The Lady Pacers finally got the lead back as the fourth opened on another inside bucket by Breeck, but Grote tied the game moments later with another two freethrows. Shawe then retook the lead with a freethrow by Phoebe Grote; but Thomas converted two freethrows to push Switzerland County back in front. Shawe answered that with a basket by Grace McAllister; but again Thomas went to work, hitting a jumper that again gave Switzerland County the lead – but that would be temporary, as Grote again scored to tie the game at 37-37 with 3:22 to go.
It would be the final time that Shawe got that close.
Scudder and Thomas had back-to-back buckets that quickly made the lead four; and after Grote made a freethrow, Griffith connected on a critical three-pointer that gave Switzerland County its biggest lead of the night, six points.
Shawe’s Hesse then completed a traditional three-point play that cut the lead in half; but Lay countered that with a basket and followed that with a freethrow, and the lead was again six points.
Hesse scored inside; and Powell then made a freethrow; and after Phoebe Grote made a basket, Thomas put the game out of reach with two freethrows in the final 12-seconds, securing Switzerland County’s second win of the season, 50-45.
Although Thomas didn’t score in the first half, the sophomore certainly made her presence felt in the second half, scoring 15 points -including 11 in the closing fourth quarter – to seal the win.
The Lady Pacers had great balance on the offensive end, as Lay finished with 11 and Breeck with 10 to make it three Switzerland County players in double figures.
Griffith finished with five; Scudder had four; Powell added three; and Oeffinger chipped in two points for the victory.
For Shawe, Kate Grote led the way with 27 points; while Hesse added nine.
Switzerland County now closes 2017 with a home game this Saturday night, December 16th, with Southwestern; and then travel to Kentucky to take on Trimble County on Wednesday, December 20th.