The girls basketball season opener Tuesday at South Decatur featured a matchup of two head coaches making their debut for their respective teams.
For South’s Jessica McConnell and Brown County’s Shane Billingsley, the game meant a clash between two programs on the rise.
Brown County prevailed 52-45 in a game that Billingsley’s Eagles faced off against his daughter, South senior Courtney Billingsley. Afterward, though, the father and daughter shared a hug during the postgame handshakes.
The teams exchanged turnovers in the early minutes after the Eagles won the opening tip. However, South senior Julia Miller scored the game’s first four points to give her team a quick edge. Brown County tied it up, but Miller answered back with her third basket to keep South ahead.
The Eagles went on a 10-3 run, though, to take control of the game. Senior Whitney Williamson helped the visitors jump out to a 20-12 lead until Miller ended the first half scoring with a basket off a steal.
Brown County’s 21-16 halftime lead shrank to three points with scores from Miller and South senior Ashley Johannigman. The Cougars’ deficit increased to six until the duo heated up halfway through the third quarter. They combined for 11 straight South points, and Miller made it 31-29 with a three-point play. However, the Eagles scored the next six points and led 37-29 at the end of three periods.
South found itself trailing by 10 points, 40-30, early in the final quarter. The Cougars chipped away, though, as junior Megan Niese drained a 3-pointer. Johannigman, who entered the season 30 assists from the school’s career assists record, dished over to Miller to start a 6-0 South run.
However, it was not enough as the Eagles held off South’s rally.
“We played great for our first game,” said McConnell. “We just couldn’t get over that five to seven point hump. Brown County was a great first challenge with an up-and-coming program as well. We need to finish strong and hit our open shots.”