2/2/2013 9:00:00 AM Pacers pull away from Shawe in 4th
Switzerland County’s Austin Clark (24) drives the lane between Shawe defenders Joe Mingione (21) Luke Higgins (right) and David Grote in the third quarter of Friday’s game in Vevay. Clark scored a game-high 17 points in the Pacers’ win. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Seth Grundhoefer Courier Staff Writer
After more than 26 minutes of chipping away at Shawe Memorial's stingy defense, Switzerland County finally found a chink in the armor to topple the visiting Hilltopppers 49-36 in boys basketball on Friday.
The Pacers (12-4, 4-1 Ohio River Valley) exploded for 23 points in the fourth quarter after trailing the entire third quarter. Switzerland, now just one game back from South Ripley in the conference standings, picked up a series of key fouls and went 12-for-13 at the foul line in the final eight minutes.
Junior Austin Clark led the Pacers with 17 points and was a perfect 7-for-7 at the foul strip.
"What was so good about that was that we were able to knock down free throws, but the big part was that we were able to get stops," Switzerland coach B.J. McAlister said. "It's something we practice every day: Stop, score, stop."
The Pacers trailed much of the second half after getting into early foul trouble, but were given a huge jolt when junior Chase Ritch drilled a 3-pointer with 5:24 remaining in the game. In what was a forgettable 1-for-11 night behind the arc for the Pacers, Ritch's clutch 3-pointer put Switzerland County up 31-29.
It was the fourth and final lead change of the night.
Shawe Memorial (7-10, 2-3 ORVC) found some offensive magic of its own in the first half when senior David Grote picked off an in-bound pass and drove it for a layup with 21 seconds left in the first half to give the Hilltoppers a 19-17 lead into halftime.
Shawe turned on the defense early in the second quarter and slowed down the tempo of the game and stalled the Pacers' offense. McAlister said the game plan was to use the Pacers' height in big men Clark (6-foot-6) and T.J. White (6-foot-6), but added that Hilltoppers did a good job of "clogging up the lane" much of the game.
On the other side of the ball McAlister said the Hilltoppers moved the ball with purpose.
"Shawe does a pretty good job of running their offense," McAlister said. "They're pretty patient, and they want to get quality shots."
Luke Higgins led the Hilltoppers with 12 points, including six in the fourth. Grote and senior Taylor Rhoten both had eight. The Hilltoppers allowed only four points in the second quarter and nine in the third, thanks to early foul trouble from the Pacers.
"They did a phenomenal job of defending. They pushed us to some quick shots," McAlister said. "And the foul trouble disrupted our rhythm because we had to go so deep in our bench."
"And finally in the fourth, we got out of foul trouble, and were able to put our core group in and stretch out some plays."
Following Ritch's three, Clark then hit two crucial free throws to extend the lead to 33-29. Clint Swanson followed with a bucket while driving in a crowded lane to extend the lead to 35-29.
White then banked in a fade away with just over a minute to play for the final blow, and the Pacers continued to knocked down crucial free throws until the final buzzer.
"We had a lot of guys step up and hit some big free throws," McAlister said.
Switzerland County hosts Franklin County today in a non-conference matchup. Shawe's next is Thursday at Christian Academy.