Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


December 19, 2012

Kopplin’s triple lifts South late

Cougars improve to 8-0

Greensburg — The South Decatur boys basketball team has found a way to stay unbeaten after eight games this season, whether by large margins or thrilling finishes.

The Cougars played their closest matchup of the year with a 56-54 come-from-behind win over visiting Shawe Memorial Tuesday.

South junior Taylor Kopplin hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds left to lift his team over a potential sectional opponent.

The hosts overcame second-half foul trouble and unforced errors to prevail. In the early going, the Cougars enjoyed a 13-12 lead after the first quarter of play.

South (8-0) had led 31-26 in the third after trailing 24-23 at halftime, and fell behind by as many as four points in the fourth quarter.

The Hilltoppers appeared ready to pull off an upset, taking a 26-23 lead to begin the second half. Senior Byron Balser, though, lit up the scoreboard with eight points to give South a seemingly safe lead at 31-26. It was short-lived, however, as the Hilltoppers climbed back up front 43-39. The margin alternated between two and six points in the next four minutes of the fourth period. SM answered a Balser basket with a score off a steal, making it 45-41. South senior Jordan Hatton made a pair of free throws and Kopplin hit a mid-range jumper to tie it at 45-all with 3:51 left.

SM was not in the bonus until 2:40 left in the game. Back-to-back treys lifted the visitors ahead 51-45, but South did not quit. Senior Josh Miller was fouled shooting, and his pair at the line made it 51-47 with 3:03 to go.

After the teams exchanged turnovers, SM made the front end of a 1-and-1 to pull ahead further, 52-47.

Balser hit another triple, and SM answered with a two. Fortunately for head coach Tom Black and South, it was the last point SM scored.

With Shawe leading 54-50, the teams again alternated turnovers at the 1:00 mark of the game. Shawe, shooting in the bonus, had a chance to ice the game at the line. However, the Toppers missed their last three attempts.

Kopplin scored the last six points of the game on triples, the final one off a pass from Balser after a defensive rebound.

“That last shot felt good,” said Kopplin. “Balser grabbed a big rebound on the missed free throw, and passed it to me.”

Kopplin ended with a career-high 20 points on four triples. Balser scored 13 second-half points, including eight in the third quarter. He finished with 18 on three treys. Josh Miller scored seven, while Hatton finished with four and Wullenweber with two.

“It shouldn’t have been this close,” said Kopplin, “but we hung around (and got the win). We played defense on the last play and their shot didn’t go in.”

Coach Tom Black said the game revealed areas that his squad needs to improve, such as playing better early and finishing down the stretch.

“We have two-and-a-half weeks to get better,” he said. “The last three games, we’ve had slow starts, and ended up digging a hole. We got feisty late, made some good shots and good defensive plays, and we ended up getting lucky. We have to play better.”

Black added that his team is not satisfied with its 8-0 record, given that three of its previous four games had been decided by four points or less.

“We have bigger dreams than the first eight games,” said Black, who noted that the conference schedule has yet to begin. “We need to play better down the stretch.”

South next will play Mid-Hoosier Conference rival Indian Creek Jan. 3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The game is set to open the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Challenge at noon.

Cougar JV boys fall to Hilltoppers

The South junior varsity basketball team fell to the Hilltoppers 41-35 in the first game. After South took a 9-7 lead through the first eight minutes, SM outscored South in the following three quarters. South trailed 15-14 at the half and 27-24 after three periods.

Andrew Wullenweber led South with nine points, including a 3-pointer and 2-for-3 at the foul line. Sam Studler followed with eight points, while Brayden Helms scored six. Nick Grissom tallied five, including a triple, Nick Schwering added four and Randall Canady chipped in one.

South shot 5-for-9 from the foul line.

Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.


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