The Switzerland County Lady Pacers battled hard against the undefeated Lawrenceburg Lady Tigers in Friday night’s championship game of the Rivertown Classic, but a furious charge in the final quarter still wasn’t enough to come home with the victory, as Switzerland County fell by a final score of 54-46.
The game got off to a fast, start, as Lady Pacer Aleiah Thomas was fouled on the very first possession as her shot found the range, sending her to the line with a chance for a three-point play. The freethrow was off the mark, but Thomas raced in, grabbed her own rebound, and made the put back, giving Switzerland County a quick 4-0 advantage.
Lawrenceburg responded, getting two straight buckets from Juliana Kemper and a basket from Macey Radenheimer to take its first lead — but it didn’t last long, was Thomas scored again to knot the game at 6-6.
The Lady Tigers got five straight points on a basket by Kristin Roark and a three-pointer from Tristyn Dennis; but Josie Meyer found the range on her three-point attempt for Switzerland County, and the game stayed close.
Kierah Lowe scored inside for Lawrenceburg; and Kyah Chase matched that for Switzerland County; and then the Lady Tigers got hot, ending the period with a field goal from Kemper and another three-pointer from Dennis to take a 18-11 lead into the first break.
Lawrenceburg extended its lead as the second quarter got underway, getting buckets from Roark and Kirsten Cross and a rebound put back off of a missed freethrow by Roark to move out to a 24-11 advantage.
Thomas scored out of a timeout to stem the run; but Cross scored to match that; and after Chase made two freethrows for Switzerland County, Dennis hit a jumper to keep the lead at 13 points.
As the half wore down, Chase drilled a three-pointer that gave the Lady Pacers a boost, but Dennis came right back with her third three-pointer of the half, and at the break Lawrenceburg led 31-18.
Lawrenceburg came out of halftime hot, with Dennis hitting a field goal and following that with a three-pointer that doubled up Switzerland County at 36-18; but then the Lady Pacers began to steady themselves.
Jaden Harrell scored inside, and Thomas followed that with a three-pointer; and after Kemper made a trey for Lawrenceburg, Maddie Duvall connected from long range for the Lady Pacers, keeping the deficit at 13.
Chloe Meyer scored for the Lady Tigers; and Thomas made a freethrow; and after Lowe scored inside again, Thomas made a three-pointer and Maddie Duvall hit a freethrow to cut the deficit down to 12. After Roark scored again, Meyer capped a big third quarter with her second three-pointer of the game, and the third quarter ended with Lawrenceburg still in front, 45-34.
Down by 11, Switzerland County didn’t waste time getting right back into the fray, as Meyer opened the fourth in the same way she closed the third — with a three-pointer that cut the gap down to eight. Chase followed that with a pair of freethrows to get the Lady Pacers to within six; and after Lowe and Maddie Duvall each matched freethrows; Lowe scored inside but that was topped by Jessie Duvall hitting two freethrows.
With four minutes to play, Switzerland County was within six, 48-42, and had the undefeated Lady Tigers on their heels.
It would get closer, as Jessie Duvall’s runner in the lane sliced the lead down to four with three minutes to play; but Lawrenceburg — behind the steady play of Kemper, who would be named Tournament MVP for the third straight year — got baskets on two straight trips to extend the lead back to eight with time winding down.
Chase went to the freethrow line in the game’s final minute to converted to trim the lead to six; but two freethrows by Dennis in the waning seconds sealed Lawrenceburg’s fourth straight Rivertown Classic championship, 54-46.
Switzerland County had a very balanced offensive effort, with Thomas leading the way with 12 points and Chase finishing in double figures with 11.
Meyer had nine on three three-pointers; Jessie Duvall had seven; Maddie Duvall had three; and Harrell contributed two points.
Switzerland County made just 14 shots from the floor in the game — but seven of those were three-pointers; and they were 11-for-17 from the freethrow line.
Thomas earned a spot on the Rivertown All Tournament Team for her efforts over both games.
Lawrenceburg was led by Dennis with 18 and Kemper with 13.
Switzerland County now jumps right into the meat of its conference schedule as the final month of the regular season opens up before them.
Tonight (Thursday) the Lady Pacers travel to Southwestern looking for revenge from a defeat in the ‘Rumble on the River’ tournament earlier; and then come home this Saturday for an afternoon contest against New Washington. Switzerland County travels to Jac-Cen-Del this Tuesday, January 21st; and then wraps the regular season with four straight home games: Thursday, January 23rd with Oldenburg; Saturday, January 25th in an afternoon game with South Decatur; Tuesday, January 28th with Rising Sun; and then the finale on Thursday, January 30th with South Ripley.
Switzerland County hosts this year’s girls basketball Sectional, which will begin on Tuesday, February 4th.