AURORA - Switzerland County overpowered a young but determined South Dearborn squad 81-55 in the opening round of the 14th Annual Rivertown Classic on Thursday.

The win was Switzerland County's first in the opening round since 2010 when it went on to win the championship. The victory also allowed the Pacers to gain some revenge after suffering two disappointing losses to an underdog Knights team last season.

"I thought South Dearborn came in with a good game plan," Pacers head coach B.J. McAlister said. "We didn't play very well defensively and I give a lot of credit to South Dearborn for that because they did a really good job attacking us. Luckily, we pushed away from them late in the third quarter. I know their record isn't where they'd like for it to be but they've got a lot of fight. They won't let you walk over them."

South Dearborn's aggressiveness was put on display in the first quarter with a tight 2-3 zone that dictated the tempo of the game offensively. The Knights' Jeff Wohlfrom scored a quick five points en route to an 8-6 lead but Switzerland County's Austin Clark shook free long enough to score five consecutive points followed by two made free throws by Ben Curran for the Pacers to led 13-11 at the quarter break.

"Their game plan starting out was to frustrate our leading scorers and really attack," McAlister said. "We made some adjustments late in the quarter and we started seeing our guys share the basketball a lot more and we got the ball rolling from there."

The adjustments continued to pay off at the start of the second quarter when a 17-4 run propelled Switzerland to a double-digit lead and sent the Swiss into halftime with a 15-point advantage.

But after trailing by as many as 19 early in the third quarter, South Dearborn launched a 9-2 assault to pull within 11 points and force a fuming McAlister to take a timeout.

McAlister wouldn't repeat what was said in the huddle but he admitted the conversation changed how his team played the rest of the night.

"Let's just say that we had an intense discussion on how practice would go the next day if we didn't pick up our energy defensively," McAlister smiled. "After that our energy did pick up and we were able to pull away for the remainder of the game."

And pull away they did. The Swiss came out of the timeout and used a 10-0 run to push the lead back to 21 points. Up 60-42 after the third quarter, the Pacers exploded for another 21 points in the final frame to walk away with the 81-55 win.

Four starters reached double figures for Switzerland. After dealing with a frustrating South Dearborn defense and two fouls in the first half, Clark went off for 15 second half points en route to 24 for the game. Chase Ritch had 16 points including three 3-pointers while Curran and T.J. White each added 10.

"I've been really proud of not only this senior class but this team as a whole, offensively," McAlister said. "Austin gets a lot of attention because of his high numbers but we have had so many other guys step up and do a really good job. We do such a great job of sharing the basketball that it is really hard for opponents to key on just one guy."

South Dearborn (1-9) was led by Wohlfrom's 18 points while Blake Kirkey joined him in double figures with 10.

Switzerland County (7-1) now sets its sights on Saturday's Rivertown Classic championship game at 7:30 p.m. The Pacers play Lawrenceburg (5-3), a 68-57 winner over Rising Sun in Thursday's other matchup.

The exact same matchup is slated for the girls championship at 6 p.m.

"They're a hard-nosed basketball team," McAlister said of Lawrenceburg. "They always play extremely hard, extremely physical and we're going to have to be better defensively than we were tonight. But they have to guard us too."


Rivertown Classic

Opening Round

at Aurora


SWITZERLAND CO. 13 24 23 21 - 81

SOUTH DEARBORN 11 11 20 13 - 55

SWITZERLAND CO. (7-1) - (f)Clark 24, (g)Ritch 16, (f)White 10, (g)Curran 10, (g)Burk 8, Gabbard 5, Phagan 3, Hunter 3, K.Hayes 2, Whitaker 0, Furnish 0, H.Hayes 0.

SOUTH DEARBORN (1-9) - (g)Wohlfrom 18, (f)Kirkey 10, Gaines 8, Williams 6, (g)Rutzel 3, (f)Howell 3, (g)Lewis 3, England 1, Oatman 0.

3-Point Goals - Switzerland Co. 5 (Ritch 3, Gabbard 1, Phagan 1), South Dearborn 5 (Wohlfrom 2, Williams 2, Rutzel 1). Total Fouls - Switzerland Co. 18, South Dearborn 15. Free Throws - Switzerland Co. 14-17, South Dearborn 13-22. Fouled Out - South Dearborn: Howell. Next Game - Switzerland Co. plays Lawrenceburg Saturday at South Dearborn; South Dearborn hosts Rising Sun today.