It was a big night for the young Switzerland County Lady Pacer basketball team. Although Coach Ashley Chase’s team has made big strides this season, the Lady Pacers had hit a win drought over the past several weeks, and faced the always-tough Jac-Cen-Del Lady Eagles at home on Tuesday night.
Falling behind early, the Lady Pacers kept hustling and using their defensive pressure, and then rode some key shooting to a 43-39 win.
After Eve Galbreath opened the game with a basket, Jac-Cen-Del got seven straight points on baskets by Sydney Keene and Brianna Volz and a three-pointer by Crista Roberts.
Lady Pacer Brooke Todd stopped that run with a traditional three-point play, but Jac-Cen-Del responded with another run of five points to extend the lead out to seven.
Mercedes Parham then connected on a three-pointer, but a Lady Eagle three-pointer by Jenna Hughes closed the first quarter with Jac-Cen-Del ahead by a score of 15-8.
The Lady Eagles then opened the second period with a basket by Sydney Keene, but again Mercedes Parham showed the hot hand, drilling her second three-pointer of the contest. Jac-Cen-Del then tried to ease away, getting a basket by Brooklyn Ronsheim and a three-pointer by Jenna Hughes, and with 4:21 to play, Switzerland County found itself down by double digits, 22-11.
Back Switzerland County came, with Brooke Todd connecting on a three-pointer and Mercedes Parham hitting a freethrow to get back within seven; and after Jac-Cen-Del made a freethrow and a basket, Mercedes Parham would hit her third three-pointer of the game to spark her teammates. Jac-Cen-Del scored again, and a runner in the lane by Brooke Todd sent the teams to the halftime break with the Lady Eagles holding a 27-20 advantage.
Sydney Keene opened the second half with a basket that pushed the lead back to nine, but the Lady Pacers countered that with a pair of freethrows by Eve Galbreath and a basket by Brooke Todd. After Brianna Volz scored inside for Jac-Cen-Del, Makenzie Mathews drilled a long three-pointer that drew Switzerland County to within four.
Jordan Day then made a freethrow for Jac-Cen-Del, and again Makenzie Mathews responded, and her second three-pointer in less than two minutes made the score 32-30. When Hailee Lay converted a pair of freethrows seconds later, the game was tied at 32-32 with less than a minute to play in the quarter.
The third quarter ended in a rather unusual way, when Lady Pacer center Erika Coy attempted two straight shots as the quarter ran out. Both shots were blocked by Jac-Cen-Del players, but no foul was called on the physical plays.
As the horn sounded, a frustrated Erika Coy bounced the ball hard on the floor with the intention of catching it, but when it went through her hands and into the air – the referees whistled her for a technical foul.
Brianna Volz then came out of the Lady Eagle huddle for two freethrows, and when she made one of the two, the quarter officially ended with Jac-Cen-Del holding a 33-32 advantage.
The final quarter opened with Jenna Hughes making a pair of freethrows for Jac-Cen-Del to make the lead three, but Eve Galbreath responded to that with a basket in the paint. After Jac-Cen-Del’s Crista Roberts missed the front end of a one-and-bonus freethrow opportunity, a short jumper by Bre Ricketts gave Switzerland County its first lead since the opening basket, 36-35. Mercedes Parham’s rebound and put back in the lane moments later made the lead three, and the cheers of the Lady Pacer fans spurred the squad.
The score remained the same over the next two minutes, but Jac-Cen-Del got back out in front with less than two minutes to play when Brianna Volz scored inside and Sydney Keene made a pair of freethrows.
Switzerland County poured the ball inside to Eve Galbreath, and she again scored in the paint to retake the lead and was fouled on the play.
With the Lady Pacers holding a one point lead, 40-39, the play of the game happened when Eve Galbreath’s freethrow bounced off, and Lady Pacer Kelsi Konkle swooped in for the rebound, steadied herself, and converted a short jumper that made the score 42-39 with under a minute to go.
Jac-Cen-Del raced to get back in the game, but a strong Lady Pacer defense wouldn’t give the Lady Eagles a clean shot; and when Sydney Keene’s three-point attempt to tie the game bounced free, Eve Galbreath grabbed the rebound and was fouled with just five seconds to go.
She converted one of the two attempts, and the horn sounded with Switzerland County celebrating a 43-39 victory.
Balance offensively and defensively was a big key for Switzerland County, as Mercedes Parham, on the strength of her three three-pointers, led the team with 12 points overall. Brooke Todd was also in double figures, finishing with 10.
Eve Galbreath had nine points; Makenzie Mathews’ two three-pointers gave her six points; and Bre Ricketts and Kelsi Konkle each added two points in the win.
Sydney Keene led Jac-Cen-Del, scoring 10 points.
Switzerland County returns to action tonight (Thursday) when they travel to Oldenburg Academy; and then stay on the road for a game this Tuesday, January 22nd, at Rising Sun.
In the junior varsity game, Jac-Cen-Del defeated Switzerland County by a score of 29-22.
Makenzie Mathews and Megan Chitwood led the Lady Pacers with six points each; while Emily Campbell had four points; Baylie Scudder had three points; Hailee Lay had two points; and Courtney Pedraza contributed one point.