THROW DOWN: Switzerland County’s Austin Clark dunks over Perry Central’s Derek Thomas (below) during Saturday’s regional semifinal game at Southridge. Perry Central won the game 60-46 and Clark received hugs from a pair of classmates (above) while walking off the floor. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
THROW DOWN: Switzerland County’s Austin Clark dunks over Perry Central’s Derek Thomas (below) during Saturday’s regional semifinal game at Southridge. Perry Central won the game 60-46 and Clark received hugs from a pair of classmates (above) while walking off the floor. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
HUNTINGBURG - Switzerland County had its way inside but turnovers doomed any chance the Pacers had at advancement in a 60-46 loss to Perry Central in the Class 2A Regional semifinals at Southridge on Saturday.

The Pacers out-rebounded Central 36-22, blocked 10 shots and had two dunks in traffic in their first regional game in seven years. But Switzerland also turned the ball over 16 times which led directly to 22 points.

Combine the turnovers with a 5-for-11 shooting at the free-throw line and it was easy to see why the Pacers fell to 0-7 all-time in regional games.

"That was one of the keys to the game. To not let one mistake multiply into a few others," Switzerland coach B.J. McAlister said. "(Perry Central) is a great basketball team. They come get you and we don't see a lot of that. And you can't really simulate that in practice."

Perry Central (22-4) later fell to 10th-ranked Linton-Stockton (23-3) 68-63 in the championship game. Linton, which won its first regional title since 1946, beat No. 8 Clarksville (18-6) 65-62 in the other semifinal.

The game was expected to be a matchup between Perry's speed and Switzerland's size and it lived up to that billing. While the Pacers dominated the inside, Perry Central's guards controlled the tempo.

The result was a game that saw the Commodores go ahead by 11 (21-10) early in the second quarter and hold that margin throughout the game despite a monster 24-point, seven rebound game by Switzerland junior Austin Clark.

After the two teams traded baskets in the early moments of the game, Perry Central seized control by hitting four 3-pointers in just over a five-minute span, the only treys the Commodores hit all afternoon.

The second of the 3-pointers, by senior Abe Schwartz with 1:40 left in the first, gave Central some breathing room at 13-8. The third was a deflating 26-foot bank shot at the buzzer by Dacota Schaad, the junior's only points of the game.

While Schaad's shot, which left his hand less than a second before the horn sounded, hit Switzerland like a sucker punch, it was Schwartz's 3-pointer 12 seconds in the second quarter that was the back-breaker. Schwartz's trey put Perry Central ahead 21-10 and the Pacers didn't get within eight the rest of the way.

"We really wanted to stay in front of the bounce and get out on Schwartz and (Derek) Thomas and (Tanner) Cassidy)," McAlister said. "For most of the time we were there on the catch but they were starting to get to the rim and we had to come out of the zone to try to slow down their transition."

Despite the early hole, Switzerland never went away and even trailing by 13 (33-20) it didn't feel as if the game was out of reach.

But the Pacers (18-5) found themselves trading baskets with Perry Central much of the time and whenever Switzerland seemed to get on a roll, the Commodores were there with a big shot to stop the momentum.

"We got on a roll in the third and were getting buckets but we couldn't get stops because they were able to get to the rim on us," McAlister said.

The Pacers finally clamped down in the fourth. Trailing 48-31 heading into the last quarter, Switzerland cut the margin to 12 on two-different occasions and had the ball both times but was unable to get the lead into single digits.

It was in the fourth that Switzerland's Clark and Alex Curran both slammed dunks in traffic. Curran got his on a nice dump-in pass from Clark along the baseline.

Clark, meanwhile, sent a message with his when he took an inbound pass underneath his own basket and immediately went to the rim, throwing down the dunk over Thomas.

While the act of a 6-foot-6 forward dunking over a 5-foot-9 guard isn't impressive in itself, it was the most aggressive move Clark made all season and could portend what could be a monster senior season.

"We've known all along that Austin is a pretty good player for us. We try to feed off him," McAlister said. "I thought early in the game he kind of felt like he had to do something and he pressed a little. And that's nothing negative about Austin. In games like this, there are so many shots because they are pressuring you it's hard to remain cool. We were able to settle down, break pressure and get the basketball to him. And he made some nice scores, as did all of our guys."

Clark's 24 points led all scorers but he was the only Pacer in double figures. Chase Ritch and Curran both were next with six points.

Cassidy and Schwartz scored 13 points each to lead Perry Central, which shot 45.5 percent (22-of-48) from the floor and turned the ball over just nine times. The Commodores were also 11-of-15 from the foul line.

Switzerland was 19-of-46 (41.3 percent) from the floor but were done in by the 16 turnovers, most of which led to easy baskets for Central.

The loss ends a Pacers' season that included a school-record 18 wins. Switzerland loses four seniors, Curran, Trevor Smith, Clint Swanson and the injured Tyler Queen, but returns a strong core of players.

While McAlister acknowledged that his team could possibly be even better next year, he wasn't ready yet to look ahead.

"We've got some great guys coming back but that's for another day. In a couple of weeks we can start looking ahead to next season," McAlister said. "Right now is for those seniors who have meant so much to the program. We're going to miss them and I just wish we could have sent them out with a better result."




at Huntingburg



PERRY CENTRAL 18 15 15 12 - 60

SWITZERLAND CO. 10 10 11 15 - 46

PERRY CENTRAL (22-4) - (f)Cassidy 13, Schwartz 13, (g)Thomas 8, (c)Hedinger 8, (f)LeClere 6, Hubert 5, (g)Huber 4, Schaad 3, Schraner 0.

SWITZERLAND CO. (18-5) - (f)Clark 24, (g)Ritch 6, (f)A. Curran 6, Tressler 4, (g)Smith 3, (g)Swanson 3, White 0, Burk 0, B. Curran 0, Phagan 0, Powell 0, Hunter 0.

3-Point Goals - Perry Central 4 (Schwartz 2, Thomas 1, Schaad 1), Switzerland Co. 3 (Ritch 2, Clark 1). Rebounds - Perry Central 22, Switzerland Co. 36. Assists - Perry Central 6, Switzerland Co. 8. Turnovers - Perry Central 9, Switzerland Co. 16. Total Fouls - Perry Central 11, Switzerland Co. 14. Free Throws - Perry Central 11-15 (73%), Switzerland Co. 5-11 (45%). Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Both teams' seasons end.