Pacers hold off Shiners in ‘Ruler of the River’ battle, 56-52

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Pacers hold off Shiners in ‘Ruler of the River’ battle, 56-52

  When Switzerland County and Rising Sun get together on a basketball court, throw out any and all perceptions of what’s about to happen — because it’s always a battle.

  Last Friday night, the boys varsity game came down to some key possessions and freethrows at the end, with the Pacer outlasting their rivals by four points, 56-52.

  Switzerland County got off to a quick start, with a basket by Bryce Turner and a three-pointer from Cameron Craig; and after Damon Carrigan scored for the Shiners, an inside bucket by Craig off of a tremendous assist from Jacob Williams and a traditional three-point play by Ben Hicks made the score 10-2 in favor of the homestanders with 4:32 left in the opening quarter.

  Brady Works scored inside for the Shiners; and Austin Bosaw followed that with a freethrow for the Pacers. Rising Sun then got a three-pointer by Carrigan and a freethrow by Works, narrowing the lead to just three.

  The Pacers ended the period on a run, scoring the final seven points on a three-pointer by Bosaw and baskets by Turner and Hicks, and the first quarter came to an end with Switzerland County leading by 10 — 18-8.

  Craig opened the second with a bucket that extended the Pacer lead to 12; but Works followed that with two baskets and Carrigan made a freethrow that kick started a Rising Sun run.

  After Hicks made a pair of freethrows and Craig converted a charity; the Shiners got their offense rolling with a basket by Works, a three-pointer from Dylan Martin and two freethrows by Peyton Merica, and suddenly the double digit lead had shrunk to just three with 1:40 to go in the half.

  Hicks followed that with a huge play at a critical time. The senior guard made a steal and raced to the Pacer basket, converting the layup and getting fouled. He then made the freethrow, pushing the lead back to six.

  Again Rising Sun countered, this time as Merica got hot — making two freethrows and following that with a three-pointer that caused the Shiner fans to erupt and cut the lead to just one with 17-seconds to play.

  Craig got inside and was fouled just before the halftime buzzer, and his two freethrows sent the teams to the locker room with Switzerland County in front, 28-25.

  The Pacers opened the second half with strong offense, getting a basket by Hicks and a freethrow from Craig; but just as Switzerland County thought it had found breathing room, Merica drilled another jumper just inside the three-point line that sliced the lead down to four.

  That was followed by a basket by Williams, a three-pointer from Turner, and a jumper by Craig — and with 1:46 to go in the third period, Switzerland County again held a double digit lead, 38-28.

  Merica made another basket in the closing seconds, but there was still time for Craig to take control, and the Pacer freshman scored as the buzzer sounded, sending both teams to the third quarter break with the Pacers holding an 11-point lead, 40-29.

  Merica got the Shiners off to a fast start in the final stanza with a three-point play; and after Williams scored inside for the Pacers, Carrigan hit another jumper for Rising Sun.

  With the Shiners threatening a run, senior Pacer Bryce Wrightsman hit a big three-pointer that kept the lead at 11; but Rising Sun continued to fight their way back, getting baskets by Carrigan and Martin and a pair of freethrows by Works that made the score 45-40 in favor of Switzerland County with 3:40 to go.

  Wrightsman stopped that run with two freethrows; but the Shiners kept charging, getting buckets from Martin and Works — and again it was Wrightsman with the stop, as his jumper was followed by a basket by Canaan Johnson that gave Switzerland County a seven-point lead with 2:20 to go, 51-44.

  Rising Sun kept pushing the action, as Works and Martin each converted a pair of freethrows to make the Pacer lead just three with 1:29 to play.

  Craig has been the talk of the area in just the freshman’s fourth high school game, and that talk was justified with just :55-seconds left when he came off of a screen and drilled a critical three-pointer that again gave the Pacers some breathing room, pushing the back to six.

  A physical game all night got even more so in the closing seconds, as both teams battled for control. Carrigan scored for the Shiners; and Works followed that with two freethrows in four attempts — and the lead was down to two with :25-second to go.

  Switzerland County sealed it at the freethrow line, getting two points from Hicks on four attempts in the closing seconds, and the Pacers earned the win and control of the ‘Ruler of the River’ trophy with a hair-raising 56-52 victory.

  Craig led the Pacers with 18 points on the night; while Hicks had a big game, finishing in double figures with 14.

  Turner and Wrightsman each finished with seven; Williams and Bosaw had four each; and Canaan Johnson added two.

  The Shiners had just four players score in the game — but three were in double figures — led by Works with 17. Merica had 14; Carrigan had 12; and Martin finished with nine.

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  The exciting varsity game was preceded by an equally exciting junior varsity contest.

  Rising Sun hit key shots in the closing minutes to hold off Switzerland County by a 41-38 score.

  The Pacers were led by Austin Hemingway with 11; and Kaden Riley added eight. Cooper Todd and Bradley Romans each finished with five; Roman Hite had four; Dylan Sullivan had three; and Levi Curlin contributed two.

  Rising Sun got 16 points from Brody Morris; eight points from Nate Elliott;  seven from Gavin Shorten; four by Braylon Williams; and three each from Caden Gilmore and Brayden Burris.