BALL SCRAMBLE: Switzerland County’s Bre Ricketts (above, right) tangles with South Ripley’s Rachel Hensley for a loose ball during Thursday’s game in Versailles. Switzerland’s Eve Galbreath (below) shoots over Ripley’s Sidney Steinhauer (45) for a basket. Galbreath had 13 points but South Ripley rallied from 16 down to win 58-48. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
BALL SCRAMBLE: Switzerland County’s Bre Ricketts (above, right) tangles with South Ripley’s Rachel Hensley for a loose ball during Thursday’s game in Versailles. Switzerland’s Eve Galbreath (below) shoots over Ripley’s Sidney Steinhauer (45) for a basket. Galbreath had 13 points but South Ripley rallied from 16 down to win 58-48. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
VERSAILLES - Switzerland County rocked South Ripley with a quick combination of back-door cuts and 3-pointers but the Lady Pacers failed to land the knockout blow and it cost them big time.

Switzerland jumped out to a 17-2 lead after the first quarter of Thursday's key Ohio River Valley Conference showdown in Versailles and led 22-6 early in the second.

But South Ripley responded in a big way. Riding a game-high 24 points from senior Rachel Hensley on senior night, the Raiders cut the lead to 13 by halftime, to one by the end of the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth for a 58-48 win that clinched at least a share of the ORVC title.

Switzerland County coach Ashley Chase could only manage a wry smile after the game. While the second-year coach couldn't have been more pleased with her young's team start, she was still disappointed with the loss.

"Excited and disappointed at the same time. Is that possible?" Chase said. "I though that first quarter we played pretty well. But in the third quarter we got that quick foul and it just kind of went tumbling down from there. But still, I was very happy with the way we played early."

Switzerland County's first-quarter start was stunning considering that South Ripley came into the game with 12 wins on the season and was perfect in ORVC play.

It's not that the Pacers (8-11, 2-2 ORVC) started off all that quickly. Switzerland managed only baskets by freshman Brooke Todd and sophomore Eve Galbreath in the first four minutes but still led 4-0 thanks to a rougher start by the Raiders.

South Ripley (13-5, 5-0 ORVC) helped Switzerland out every way it could in the first quarter. The Raiders missed every shot they took from the floor and turned the ball over five times. Ripley's only scoring came on a free throws by Hensley and Emily Cumberworth.

But while the Raiders struggled, Switzerland heated up. Freshmen Kelsi Konkle and Makenzie Mathews each knocked down 3-pointers and Galbreath scored nine points in the quarter, the last on a three-point play with 23 seconds left that staked the Pacers to a 17-2 first-quarter lead.

Switzerland kept the momentum up early in the second. Hensley had four free throws for the Raiders but the Pacers got a bucket from Bre Ricketts and another 3-pointer from Mathews to push the lead to 22-6 with 6:56 left before halftime.

Moments later, Sidney Steinhauer knocked down a short jumper for South Ripley's first field goal of the game and that basket seemed to shake loose whatever malaise the Raiders were under.

Ripley hit five more shots in the quarter but Konkle had two more threes, Erika Coy hit a basket and Todd had a free throw as Switzerland stayed ahead 32-19 at halftime.

Galbreath picked up her third foul early in the third quarter and Chase made the decision to try to steal minutes with her leading scorer on the bench. However, the move backfired and Ripley began scoring in chunks.

With Galbreath on the bench, the Raiders scored 12-straight points to close to within one at 34-33. When Galbreath returned to the floor it did little to curb the Raiders' momentum. Ricketts hit two free throws but Samantha Wilhoit answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game for the first time 36-36.

Galbreath's basket in transition right before the buzzer allowed Switzerland to take a 38-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

"Eve got that foul and I took the chance of putting her on the bench," Chase said of the third quarter. "We have to learn how to play without Eve out there. I told the girls in the lockerroom that we have to have somebody step up and make a big shot and we just didn't do that."

Ricketts opened the fourth with a basket to push Switzerland's lead back to four but it was short-lived. Wilhoit answered with a three-point play and Hensley's layup with 5:48 left in regulation gave Ripley its first lead of the night and the Raiders never trailed again.

Over the next three and a half minutes South Ripley outscored Switzerland 16-3 to pull ahead 52-43 and the Raiders still led 54-45 with just under two minutes to play.

Konkle hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game to pull Switzerland to within six but the Pacers didn't score again. They had several shots in the final minute in an attempt to put pressure on the Raiders but none fell in. Hensley's four free throws in the final 46 seconds sealed the win and at least a share of the conference championship.

Switzerland's three leading scorers on the night were either freshmen or sophomores and no seniors played in the game for the Pacers. Still, Chase refused to use her team's youth as a reason for the loss.

"A lot of people give me the age thing, but I don't care how old they are. They're going out and playing basketball," Chase said. "There is a difference in maturity between a senior and a freshman but I feel really good about our freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Even though they are young, ultimately it's still basketball. You just have to finish that game out."

Galbreath led the Pacers with 13 points while Konkle scored 12, all from behind the arc.

Steinhauer and Wilhoit had 11 points each for Ripley, which had a huge advantage at the free-throw line. The Raiders hit three times as many free throws as Switzerland attempted and were 22-of-29 on the night. Ripley also turned the ball over just 12 times to Switzerland's 21.

South Ripley will now face Jac-Cen-Del next Thursday in Osgood for a chance to go undefeated in the conference and claim the ORVC crown outright. The Eagles knocked off Southwestern 54-46 on Thursday.

The loss officially eliminated Switzerland County from the conference race but the season is far from over. The Pacers host Southwestern on Tuesday and Shawe a week from today to close out the regular season.



at Versailles


SWITZERLAND CO. 17 15 6 10 - 48

SOUTH RIPLEY 2 17 17 22 - 58

SWITZERLAND CO. (8-11, 2-2 ORVC) - (c)Galbreath 13, (f)Konkle 12, (g)Todd 8, (f)Ricketts 7, Mathews 6, Coy 2, (g)Parham 0, Lay 0.

SOUTH RIPLEY (13-5, 5-0 ORVC) - (c)Hensley 24, (f)Steinhauer 11, (f)Wilhout 11, (g)Linkmeyer 8, (g)Cumberworth 4, Forwalt 0, Schwarte 0.

3-Point Goals - Switzerland Co. 6 (Konkle 4, Mathews 2), South Ripley 2 (Wilhout 2). Turnovers - Switzerland Co. 21, South Ripley 12. Total Fouls - Switzerland Co. 18. South Ripley 8. Free Throws - Switzerland Co. 4-7, South Ripley 22-29. Fouled Out - None. Technical Foul - Bench. Next Game - Switzerland Co. hosts Southwestern Tuesday. South Ripley visits Madison Saturday.