It was total bedlam in Christenberry Fieldhouse Feb. 26 as Peach Belt Conference heavy weights the USC Aiken Paces (25-3, 17-1) and the GRU Augusta Jaguars (21-6, 14-4) collided.
In their second meeting of the season the Pacers settled the score with an 82-73 victory after suffering a home lost in the teams’ first matchup Feb. 1, and won the PBC Conference regular season title outright for the third straight year
The game contained all the key ingredients of a heated rivalry: intensity, chippiness and an electric crowd.
The Jaguars surged its way to a 41-25 lead before halftime, and led by as many as 20 points in the first half. The team’s offense was clicking on all cylinders in the early phases of the matchup, shooting 52 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line.
While the Pacers started off sluggish by scoring at 34.8 from the field and only making half its free throws in the first period.
“We felt good at the half, but (USC) Aiken is a great team so great teams are never down.” Jaguars guard Keshun Sherrill said. “Whether they down 20 or down two.”
And the Pacers responded to the early deficit like a great team should and kept its composure.
Coming out of the locker room the Pacers played with an attacking mentality, and pressed its foot on the pedal. By the 15:42 mark the team was able to cut the lead down to single digits at 48-40 off two free throws by Pacer’s guard Ronald Zimmerman.
As time ticked away on the game clock the Jaguars offense began to cool down while the Pacers offense caught fire. The Pacers sparked a 13-0 run to gain the led, 55-52, for the first time since halfway through the first period.
“I thought in the second half we were more aggressive in attacking the basket,” Pacers head coach Vince Alexander said. “We were trying to get the ball into (Paul) Larson and (Rick) Alderman as much as possible.”
The Pacers maintained the scoring edge through the reminder of the matchup, and the Jaguars played themselves out of the game with technical fouls from numerous players and the entire bench.
Deep into the game the Jaguars attempted a full court press down 71-68. Wing player Roman Hill grabbed his defender for a foul on the play, received a technical after an altercation and was ejected from the game with 1:32 remaining.
Pacers sent guard DeVontae Wright to the line, and after sinking his free throws the lead was pushed to 75-68, virtually putting the game out of reach.
However, the Jaguars fought to the bitter end. With 46 seconds left in the game Sherrill drove inside for a lay up to make the score 76-73.
None the less, it would not be enough because the Jaguars could not keep the Pacers away from the free throw line.
By the end of the game the Pacer won the rebounding battle 41 to 29, led in assist 11 to 10 and committed 19 turnovers compared to the Jaguars nine.
Brothers Keshun and KJ Sherrill both contributed 15 points to lead the Jaguars in scoring. Pacers Zimmerman chipped in 22 points and Wright scored the most at 26.