BORDER BATTLE: Switzerland County’s Chase Ritch (above, 34) and Madison’s Nick Macon share a laugh late in Friday’s game at Salm Gym. The Pacers’ Alex Curran throws down an alley-oop dunk (below) to open the third quarter. Switzerland held on for the 53-44 win, the Pacers’ first in Madison since 1994. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
BORDER BATTLE: Switzerland County’s Chase Ritch (above, 34) and Madison’s Nick Macon share a laugh late in Friday’s game at Salm Gym. The Pacers’ Alex Curran throws down an alley-oop dunk (below) to open the third quarter. Switzerland held on for the 53-44 win, the Pacers’ first in Madison since 1994. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Switzerland County's dominating advantage on the boards proved too much for Madison to overcome as the Pacers pulled away for a 53-44 win Friday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The Pacers, with four players standing at least 6-foot-6, out-rebounded Madison 50-24, including 17-6 on the offensive end. As a result, Switzerland outscored the Cubs 15-4 on second-chance points and 28-20 in the paint.

Facing those kinds of odds Madison needed a strong shooting night in order to get the win. Those hopes were dashed with an 18-for-55 (32.7 percent) performance from the field.

"Neither team shot the ball very well but Switzerland County was definitely the more aggressive team on the rebounds," Madison coach Pat King said. "They shot it and went and got it. We shot it and looked at it. We had a lot of one and dones and they were up there playing pingpong."

The win was Switzerland's first at Madison since a 65-63 victory on Nov. 26, 1994, and just the Pacers' second all-time at Salm Gymnasium. The nine-point margin was also Switzerland's biggest over the Cubs since a 71-61 win on Nov. 19, 1976, also at Madison.

While Switzerland (16-4) won by nine points the game was close until the closing minutes. A Ryan Thurston 3-pointer pulled Madison to within two (44-42) with 2:33 left in regulation.

Clint Swanson hit a free throw on the other end to push Switzerland's lead back to three and Madison had a chance to tie on the other end. But Thurston's 3-point attempt rimmed out and the Pacers, not surprisingly, picked up the rebound.

After that it was a free-throw shooting contest, one that Switzerland won easily. The Pacers hit eight free throws in the final 1:09 of the game to ice the win.

"We had a lot of fight by anybody that was on the court," Switzerland coach B.J. McAlister said. "I'm incredibly proud of our kids' effort and attitude. That's two things you're always in control of. You're not in control of whether the ball goes in the hole or whether it's bouncing your way. But if you have a great effort and attitude, it will eventually start bouncing your way."

Madison (10-10) led most of the first half and took a 20-19 lead into the break despite getting out-rebounded 28-12 over the first 16 minutes of the game.

The game changed in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Coming out of the break, Switzerland got an alley-oop dunk by Alex Curran off a perfect pass from Chase Ritch to put the Pacers ahead by one, their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.

The dunk seemed to electrify the Pacers who went on to outscore Madison 12-2 over the next six minutes. Switzerland led by as many as nine twice in the third quarter and never trailed again.

"Madison does a great job with its defensive system of making you make a basketball play," McAlister said. "In the first half we had 12 turnovers because we were hesitant with what we wanted to do. We went into the lockerroom down one and I told the guys it was all about their attitude and effort. If their attitude was that they weren't sure what to do, or whether they can make the play, then that second half wasn't going to be for them. I definitely wasn't the case with anybody we put in there."

Madison trailed 33-27 after the third quarter but again found itself down nine (41-30) as late as 4:55 in the game. But Thurston, who led the Cubs with 16 points, and Landon Perry both got hot in the fourth quarter and combined to score 10 points to close the gap to four.

After Ritch hit a short jumper to push the lead back to six, Thurston knocked down his second trey of the quarter to pull Madison within two and set up the final moments.

Despite the hot fourth quarter, nearly every Madison player struggled with their shot. The Cubs were just 4-for-20 from 3-point range and went to the free-throw line only seven times.

"We battled back and made it a two-point game. We just couldn't make that next play," King said. "We came down the floor, we did everything right, we just missed the shot and couldn't get the rebound ... we'll learn from this. We'll let the kids see the tape and then probably on Tuesday we'll start getting ready for the sectional."

Austin Clark, at 6-foot-6, taller than nearly every player on Madison's roster, finished with an impressive double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, game-highs in both categories. Clark was 8-for-16 from the floor, 1-2 from 3-point range and 4-for-6 from the foul line. He also had eight turnovers, but six came in the first half.

Ritch finished with nine points and six rebounds for the Pacers while Curran had four points and 10 rebounds.

Thurston led Madison with 16 points but was just 6-of-19 from the floor, including 2-of-13 from the arc. He was 4-for-5 from the floor in the second half.

Nick Macon, Madison's leading scorer, was held to just six points and played much of the game in foul trouble. He picked up his third foul on a charge early in the second quarter and got foul number four early in the fourth. As a result, he only took six shots in the game.

"Nick got those fouls and had to sit a bit and it took him out of his rhythm," King said.

Both teams now have a week off before playing their first sectional game next Friday. Madison plays the Rushville-Lawrenceburg winner in the 3A sectional at Greensburg while Switzerland, which takes an eight-game win streak into the post-season, faces the Milan-Austin winner in the 2A tournament at South Ripley.

Both coaches like the fact that they get to play on Friday and thus keep their normal season schedule. Both also feel that they have a good chance to advancing if they play well.

"Now it's our turn. There are some things that we can do that are fixable and if we go in and play well then we have a chance to win," King said. "I like the way we are playing, we just need to tweak some things."



at Madison


SWITZERLAND CO. 11 8 14 20 - 53

MADISON 14 6 7 17 - 44

SWITZERLAND CO. (16-4) - (f)Clark 21, (g)Ritch 9, (g)Smith 8, Burk 6, (g)Swanson 5, (f)A. Curran 4, White 0, B. Curran 0, Tressler 0.

MADISON (10-10) - (f)Thurston 16, (g)Perry 8, (g)Macon 6, (f)Wattenbarger 6, (c)Woolard 4, King 2, Sauley 2, Huffman 0, Manaugh 0, Vaughn 0.

3-Point Goals - Switzerland Co. 2 (Ritch 1, Clark 1), Madison 4 (Perry 2, Thurston 2). Rebounds - Switzerland Co. 50 (Clark 11, A. Curran 10), Madison 24 (Woolard 5). Assists - Switzerland Co. 6 (Smith 3), Madison 10 (Macon 3). Turnovers - Switzerland Co. 16, Madison 11. Total Fouls - Switzerland Co. 10, Madison 20. Free Throws - Switzerland Co. 17-23, Madison 4-7. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Switzerland plays the Austin-Milan winner in the Class 2A sectional semifinals at South Ripley Friday. Madison plays the Rushville-Lawrenceburg winner in the semifinals of the Class 3A sectional at Greensburg Friday.