Switzerland County coach B.J. McAlister pumps his fist after a Pacers’ basket during a big run in Saturday’s 58-53 win over Milan. The Pacers led by 19 before hanging on late for the five-point win. “We played well enough to get that lead and we played well enough to make it hold up,” McAlister said. <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Switzerland County coach B.J. McAlister pumps his fist after a Pacers’ basket during a big run in Saturday’s 58-53 win over Milan. The Pacers led by 19 before hanging on late for the five-point win. “We played well enough to get that lead and we played well enough to make it hold up,” McAlister said.

(Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Switzerland County ripped out to a quick lead, led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter and then held off a furious Milan comeback after leading scorer Austin Clark fouled out to hang on 58-53 in a battle of Ohio River Valley Conference unbeatens Saturday night in Vevay.

Down 33-14 with 3:21 left in the third quarter and staring at an embarrassing rout by a conference and sectional rival, Milan clawed back to within four points twice late in the game - outscoring Switzerland 29-17 in the fourth - before the Pacers finally put down the comeback.

"We played well enough to get that lead and we played well enough to make it hold up," Switzerland coach B.J. McAlister said.

"Before the game we wrote up on the board 'It's going to be a dogfight!' and you know at halftime it looked pretty good, the end of the third looked pretty good, but we just kept saying 'They are going to make a surge because they're too good of a basketball team,'" McAlister added. "We've got to somehow sustain that initial blow because it's going to be like a heavyweight boxing fight. I don't think we sustained it the way we drew it up, but we survived it."

In the end, the victory ended up being very much a team win by the Pacers. With Clark battling foul trouble and Milan putting pressure on the ball all over the court, McAlister ended up going deep into his bench for quality minutes.

Sure, Clark scored a game-high 22 points before going to the bench with quick third and fourth fouls at 6:36 and 6:33 in the fourth quarter and then exiting the game for good with 2:55 left and the Pacers leading 49-37, but that's when Riley Phagan came off the bench to score six points in the fourth and jayvee starter Kollin Hayes managed a couple of free throws in four attempts down the stretch as the Pacers went 11-of-17 at the foul line in the fourth.

"Austin not only is having a terrific year scoring the basketball but he's in the top in our conference in assists and he handles it a lot for us," McAlister said. "But in the end it was our whole entire bench. We were throwing guys in there that were in there for certain situations. It's easy to come in when it's in the flow of the game. But when it's crunch time and you've got to get the ball inbounds, you've got to take care of it and you've got to get it to the open man, it's a whole lot different than in practice. The only way to grow is to be right in the moment."

Having so many players come through helped take some of the sting off letting a 19-point lead slip away. McAlister noted that the lessons learned from fending off the comeback could prove more valuable to his team than simply closing out a blowout.

"It really helped our team grow," McAlister said. "Obviously, if we lost this game we wouldn't have been very happy but it made a lot of our guys have to handle it. So, hopefully, it helps us become a better basketball team down the road."

In addition to Clark's 22, Phagan scored eight for the Pacers, T.J. White and Ben Curran had seven each and Tyler Gabbard and Chase Ritch scored six each.

Milan got 19 points from Logan Alloway and 11 from Logan Karsteter.

"We did a really good job of defending them and keeping the ball in front of us. And then we got into some foul trouble and we tried to back up and not get into more foul trouble so they got a little deeper into their penetration which forced us to suck in a little more to help," McAlister said of the Indians. "Guys got a little more open and they started hitting shots. They're a good team; they're going to hit shots."

The loss drops Milan to 9-4 overall and 2-1 in the ORVC and out of a first-place tie with unbeaten Switzerland (11-1, 2-0 ORVC), Jac-Cen-Del (6-6, 2-0 ORVC) and Rising Sun (3-8, 1-0 ORVC).

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SATURDAY'S BOYS GAME

at Vevay

SWITZERLAND CO. 58, MILAN 53



MILAN 2 10 12 29 - 53

SWITZERLAND 9 13 19 17 - 58



MILAN (9-4,2-1 ORVC) - (g)Alloway 19, (f)Karsteter 11, Spurlock 8, (g)Meyer 6, (f)Wade 4, (g)Detraz 3, Jon Bixler 2, Butte 0.

SWITZERLAND CO. (11-1, 2-0 ORVC) - (f)Clark 22, Phagan 8, (f)White 7, (g)Curran 7, (g)Gabbard 6, (g)Ritch 6, K. Hayes 2, Hunter 0, H. Hayes 0.



3-Point Goals - Milan 5 (Alloway 3, Spurlock 2), Switzerland Co. 6 (Clark 3, Gabbard 2, Ritch 1). Free Throws - Milan 12-14, Switzerland Co. 12-20. Total Fouls - Milan 18, Switzerland Co. 17. Fouled Out - Milan: Spurlock, Switzerland Co.: Clark. Turnovers - Milan 10, Switzerland Co. 13. Next Game - Milan visits Rising Sun Friday, Switzerland Co. visits Shawe Memorial Friday.