IN THE GRIND: Switzerland County’s Austin Clark (above, left) and Clint Swanson battle for a loose ball with Gallatin County’s Nick Brown. Switzerland County pulled away late for a 51-44 win over their neighbors from across the Ohio River in Kentucky. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
IN THE GRIND: Switzerland County’s Austin Clark (above, left) and Clint Swanson battle for a loose ball with Gallatin County’s Nick Brown. Switzerland County pulled away late for a 51-44 win over their neighbors from across the Ohio River in Kentucky. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Junior Chase Ritch drained a couple of early treys to get Switzerland County off to a fast start and juniors Austin Clark and T.J. White combined for 10 points in the stretch to slam the door on a 51-44 boys basketball win over Gallatin County (Ky.) Thursday in Vevay.

The Pacers sprinted out to an 8-0 lead at the start and doubled up the Wildcats 14-7 after one quarter but the tenacious Wildcats battled back time after time to stay in the game until the final minutes of a rare interstate matchup of two teams separated only by the Ohio River.

"It was a great job by both teams on defense," Pacers head coach B.J. McAlister said. "Our defense did a good job of making them attack our length and their defense did a good job of pressuring the ball.

"They've got one of the nicer ball clubs in our area," McAlister added. "We don't see a lot of teams that try to pressure you the way that they do."

With Switzerland County slipping into foul trouble in the second quarter, Gallatin battled back to trail 23-19 at halftime before finally knotting the game 23-23 less than a minute into the third quarter and taking its first lead on a free throw by Kristian Morgan just seconds later.

The two teams were tied twice and swapped the lead five times in the third quarter but every time the Wildcats tried to get over the hump the Pacers delivered a clutch basket to retain momentum and regain the lead.

"Getting that fast start and early lead was really important because we had a little cushion so that when we started getting into foul trouble I felt like I could get people out of the game," McAlister said.

"I thought our sophomores - Riley Phagan and Ben Curran - did a good job for us when they came into the game. We didn't lose a lot when they were in the game and I was really proud of the job they did."

Phagan helped the Pacers handle Gallatin's pressing defense and Curran provided solid relief at a time when three Swiss starters were sidelined by foul trouble..

Clint Swanson's drive to the hoop with 6:51 left in the third erased Gallatin's first lead and Clark's three-point play on an inside bucket and free throw with 6:00 left in the third answered the Wildcats' second lead.

The contest was tied for the final time at 30-30 on a bucket by Gallatin's Cole McDole with 1:33 left in the third and Gallatin held its final lead at 31-30 on a foul shot by Morgan with 14.3 seconds left in the third.

The Pacers took the lead for good on Alex Curran's three-point play with 1.2 seconds left in the quarter.

"Having Alex Curran back in the lineup and 100 percent was a big key for us," McAlister said of his 6-foot-6 senior. "Alex is a great communicator and when he's in there you can just hear him calling out things and when we've got that communication going we just play a lot better as a team. I remember as soon as I subbed him in our defense picked it up a notch."

Leading 33-31 at the start of the third, Switzerland quickly built a 37-31 lead on as 3-pointer by Clark and a foul shot by White. Gallatin did manage to whittle the Swiss lead to one (43-42) on a free throw by Tylor Herndon with 2:21 left in the game, but the Pacers outscored the Wildcats 8-2 the rest of the way en route to Switzerland's fifth-straight win.

Clark and Chase led all scorers with 13 points each and Swanson scored 10 for the Pacers before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Alex Curran added six and White five - both off the bench.

Gallatin County (14-7) was led by Morgan and Austin Chapman with 11 points each.

"It's a two-year contract. We're going to play over there next year and I hope we can continue playing each other down the road," McAlister said of the Wildcats from Warsaw, Ky. "It's a short drive for both teams and it's a solid opponent for us. You can't always find a quality opponent like that so close for everybody. Coach (Jon) Jones does an amazing job over there and he's done it for a lot of years."

The Wildcats were playing without the services of freshman starting point guard Koby Carlton, who suffered a torn ACL in a freshman game on Wednesday. The Pacers were once again without junior guard Braden Burk, who is still recovering from a concussion.

Switzerland County (13-4) will now have the weekend off for girls sectionals before hosting Franklin County (5-12) Tuesday. The Pacers will then host Jac-Cen-Del for their final Ohio River Valley Conference game on Friday, Feb. 15 and visit Madison Friday, Feb. 22 for their regular season finale.



at Vevay


GALLATIN CO. 7 12 12 13 - 44

SWITZERLAND CO. 14 9 10 18 - 51

GALLATIN CO. (14-7) - (g)Morgan 11, (f)Chapman 11, (g)Herndon 7, Beckham 6, (f)McCubbin 4, O'Connor 3, (g)Brown 2, Wilson 0.

SWITZERLAND CO. (13-4) - (f)Clark 13, (g)Ritch 13, (g)Swanson 10, A. Curran 6, White 5, (g)Smith 3, B. Curran 1, Tressler 0, Phagan 0.

3-Point Goals - Gallatin Co. 4 (Chapman 1, Morgan 1, O'Connor 1, Beckham 1). Free Throws - Gallatin Co. 12-17 (70.6%), Switzerland Co. 8-18 (44.4%). Team Fouls - Gallatin Co. 17, Switzerland Co. 17. Fouled Out - Gallatin Co.: None, Switzerland Co.: Swanson. Next Game - Gallatin Co. hosts North Oldham (Ky.) Saturday night, Switzerland Co. hosts Franklin Co. Tuesday.