Greensburg Daily News
Saturday’s final result in the South Decatur Sectional 60 tournament championship was not the way the host Cougars wanted to play their last game in their home gym.
South fell to Jac-Cen-Del 39-35 in a game the Cougars led in the second half.
The way the Cougars played Saturday was a stark contrast to the resilience South showed in Friday’s overtime win over Shawe Memorial.
“It wasn’t indicative of our team this season,” said South head coach Tom Black. “It could have been the pressure of being in the sectional. The basket looks smaller and smaller. Jac-Den-Del was a little bit quicker to loose balls than we were. We were sloppy with the basketball. We just didn’t play very well tonight, for whatever reason. Jac-Cen-Del just played better than us. You have to give credit to JCD. They understood what it took to play well this time of year, and made the plays they needed to throughout the game.”
South trailed 4-2 in an offensively-challenged first quarter, and the Eagles carried a 18-16 lead into halftime.
The Eagles led South 30-25 late in the third quarter. South, though, went on a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead. Seniors Jordan Hatton and Josh Miller each made baskets to push South ahead 31-30 at the third stop.
Alex Pilz lifted JCD back on top 32-31 to begin the fourth quarter, but Hatton answered with a basket for the 33-32 lead.
Senior Byron Balser made a heads-up play that led to another lead-changer in favor of his team. He saved the ball from going out-of-bounds before falling into the stands, and junior Taylor Kopplin swiped the ball up for a driving layup to make it 35-34 with 5:04 left.
Unfortunately for South, though, that was its last lead as foul trouble signaled the Cougars’ demise. A basket by junior Adam Siebert gave JCD the lead for good at the 2:45 mark, and three foul shots gave the Eagles the two-possession lead that provided the victory.
Kopplin led South with 14 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Balser followed with 12 points, including a pair of triples. Hatton finished with six points, Miller scored two and junior Andrew Wullenweber chipped in a free throw.
Siebert led all scorers with 15 points for the Eagles. Senior Trent Smith followed with 11, including a team-high three treys.
The Cougars finish 15-7 on the season.
“They had a lot of special moments this year,” said Black of the Cougars. “It’s hard to have the ball bounce that way. It’s just unfortunate that it bounced that way.”
Black said one of the most special moments of the season was the semifinal win over Shawe Memorial in overtime.
“Shawe certainly gave us all they had,” he said. In the end, though, South prevailed on senior Cameron Agnew’s last-second layup for a one-point win, 54-53.
The loss also signaled the final game for Agnew, Balser, Taylor Campos, Hatton, Miller and Ben Tichenor. Black commented on the legacy that South’s six seniors left on the program.
“They were a fun group, a special group,” said Black. “I’m proud of them not just for the number of games they won this season, but for finding a way to succeed in in-game situations. We were playing with confidence that they were taught to play with throughout the season. I hope that future generations of South Decatur basketball hold onto the confidence that these kids have received.”
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.