By Justin Comett
There was energy in the bleachers from excited fans mixed with intensity on the court from the coaches and players at the Jan. 17 game as the Pacers claimed victory over the Maryville Scots at the Hermann Athletic Center.
In the first half, the Pacers didn’t play with that vigor that leads them to victory. With the Scots leading at the half 39 to 26, the team had to pull together to come up with a strategy. Catching up with one of the team’s star players, Jalen Vince, he and the team knew first-hand that this game was important.
They knew at the beginning that it was going to be a pretty tough game without Jaumonee Byrd, one of their key players, who had to sit out due to a torn ACL.
Maryville, however, didn’t let that put them on hold. Spencer Shoffner and Logan Brewer gave the Pacers a run for their money with 27 and 12 points respectively. Coming from the locker room, the Pacers were feeling the motions from the first half of the game.
“Coach came in there,” said Jalen Vince, one of the teams star players. “Of course he got on us, but he stayed positive after that and told us we’ve been down before, so it’s nothing to hang our heads about.”
Heading into the second half, the Pacers dominated the floor racking up 46 points on the floor to Maryville’s 33.
Assistant Head Coach, Justin Pini, shared his thoughts on the game on Sunday night.
“Every conference game matters,” explained Pini. “Our shots weren’t falling in the first half, but we were getting good shots and we were defending well and our defense really is the key for us.”
The player of the night, Dakota King, dropped an impressive 20 points against Maryville, while the play of the game came from Vince. Thanks to a stolen ball, Vince managed to hit a three right before the buzzer to send the Pacers into overtime.
Regarding the buzzer beater and overtime, Vince said the team was determined to reel in a victory.
“After Dakota hit the free throw, I knew we had to get a stop,” exclaimed Vince. “Coach always tells us ‘The last play of the game, no one ever boxes out’ and this time it payed off for us.”
With an overtime advantage, the Pacers were able to get 12 points to secure an 84 – 78 victory over Maryville in the heart-pounder.
Going into the next game with high spirits, and positive thinking Coach Pini had this to say: “It’s gonna be a big challenge for us.”
“The strategy is we have to defend the way we are and you have to adjust to a big team. So you have to be able to use your weapons, make the extra pass, and do all those little things because we play them twice in seven days so we’ve got to be ready,” said Pini.