The South Decatur girls basketball team’s win Saturday night meant more to the Lady Cougars than being the first game in front of the home crowd.
The 43-40 victory – South’s first of the year – meant a win over rival North Decatur and the return of the Civil War trophy back to South.
Junior Ashley Johannigman’s 3-pointer with 10 seconds left sealed the win, and ended South’s four-game losing streak to start the season.
“I definitely think we needed this momentum turn to get us going,” said South head coach Amy Macy. “This game is always emotional. It could be anybody’s game.”
The Lady Chargers saw a 12-point fourth-quarter lead vanish when South outscored them 19-6 in the final eight minutes.
North scored the first nine points of the game, which is how the first quarter ended. The visitors led 17-12 at the half.
South pulled to within three points as Johannigman made it 17-14 to open the second-half scoring. After a three-point play by North junior Anna Wallpe, South junior Courtney Billingsley hit three straight from the foul line to keep the margin at three.
South answered another Wallpe score with a pair of free throws by sophomore Megan Niese, who would come up big later in the game. The closest South got until the fourth quarter was 22-21 when Johannigman grabbed a steal and took it to the hoop.
North outscored South 17-12 in the third quarter, led by Wallpe’s six points. Wallpe scored again to open her team’s largest lead, 36-24. Johannigman’s rebound basket with 7:03 left began the momentum shift. South erased North’s double-digit lead and senior Sam Miller later made it 36-29.
South scored six second-chance points in a three-minute span. Junior Julia Miller’s putback made it 39-31 with 4:37 left, starting a 14-1 South run to close the game. Johannigman scored seven of her team’s final 12 points. Following a short jumper from Sam Miller, Johannigman scored off a North turnover to make it 40-37. Niese hit a free throw as the clock read 2:00, then a rebound basket to tie the game for the first time.
South head coach Amy Macy said the final play was designed, but not for the shot that Johannigman made. Johannigman got a clean look at the basket and let it go from the corner for the deciding 3-pointer.
“AJ wanted the ball at the end of the game. She must have felt it at the time,” said Macy. “It was a confidence booster and we didn’t quit. We kept pressing and didn’t quit.”
North committed 35 turnovers on the night, while South committed 31.
“We could be a good pressing team,” said Macy, “but I don’t know if we could do it a whole game.”
Johannigman ended with a game-high 14 points. Niese followed with 12, including 4-for-6 from the foul line. Sam Miller scored eight (2-for-2), Billingsley scored five (3-for-3) and Sydney Callahan and Julia Miller each added two.
Julia Miller led South in rebounds with nine. Niese had a team-high nine steals, with Sam Miller added seven.
“Julia was big on rebounds,” said Macy. “We still have to get her to score more, and she knows that. Courtney did a good job at handling the ball. Sam came in and played good minutes, playing with an injured foot. Megan drove to the basket real well tonight. The bench came in and did a good job. I could go on about each player.”
South stats: steals (20)- Johannigman 3, Billingsley 1; assists (8)- S Miller 4, AJ 3, J Miller 1; rebounds (20)- J. Miller 9 (6 def.), AJ 8 (7 def.), S. Miller 2, AJ 1, Niese 1; blocks (3)- AJ 2, Niese 1.
North head coach Brad Bryant looks forward to see his team rebound from the loss.
“The girls played hard,” he said. “They always do. Other than that, it is real simple. You cannot turn the ball over 35 times and expect to win. You cannot go 3-for-20 in the second quarter and 1-for-10 in the fourth quarter and expect to win.”
Still, Bryant remains confident that his team will bounce back this weekend.
“What are the positives?” said Bryant. “It is game three. This better be a wake-up call for the rest of the season. It wasn’t a conference game, either. I, along with the girls, expect a different group to show up against Knightstown. I have a great group of girls who I guarantee learned a lesson against South Decatur.”
For North, senior Jenna Meyer scored a team-high 12, including 10 in the first half. She went 4-for-4 from the foul line. Anna Wallpe added a career-high 12 points, including seven in the third quarter.
Other North scoring: Abby Lamb 6, Veronica Yager 3, Emma Geis 3, Cindy Krieger 2, Andrea Volk 2, Myra Steele 1.
South hosts Knightstown tonight (Monday), while North next travels to Knightstown Saturday.
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.