Despite a close first half and strong fourth-quarter showing by its opponent, South Decatur outscored Crothersville 27-10 in the third quarter and held on for a 75-65 win Tuesday.
In the first quarter, the Tigers (6-12) got off to a quick start as Josh Thomas hit a 3-pointer and Lane Wienhorst and Conner O’Sullivan added baskets to put Crothersville up 7-2 with 5:54 on the clock.
The Cougars (9-10) answered with a 6-0 run, but the Tigers closed the quarter with a 3-pointer from Wienhorst and free throw by Zane Elliott to go up 13-9 after eight minutes.
Zane Elliott had a big second quarter for the Tigers.
A 7-0 Cougars run to begin the second quarter was halted after Elliott took a charge before hitting a pair of free throws with the Tigers trailing 16-15 at the 3:57 mark.
Elliott got a score and took another charge before Thomas drilled a trey to give the Tigers the lead back at 20-19 with 1:31 left in the half.
“Zane’s effort tonight, he did a really good job involving everyone,” Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said. “He’s becoming more of a leader on the floor. He’s doing more and more and more of what we want from him.”
At the buzzer, the Cougars’ 6-foot-6 Matt Cornett snagged an offensive rebound and got a shot to fall to put the home team up 26-22 at half.
At intermission the Cougars were dominating the boards, outrebounding the Tigers 21-13 on nine from Cornett.
The Cougars went on a 14-1 run to begin the third quarter behind five different scorers to lead 43-23 with 3:38 on the clock.
Crothersville missed six free throws and trailed 53-32 after 24 minutes of play as it struggled to get the ball to fall through the basket.
“That third quarter killed us,” Kilgore said. “They adjusted and went to a five-man offense. It kind of caught us off, because they were running through Cornett, who averages 23 points per game, in the offense. We did a good job of taking him away, but they knocked us back on our heels towards our heels.”
Following a score by Wienhorst, the Cougars scored six unanswered to go up 56-34 with 7:12 to play.
Despite the large deficit, the Tigers didn’t back down in the final four minutes.
The Tigers outscored the Cougars 20-12 in the span, with Thomas scoring 10 and Wienhorst adding eight.
Thomas led the Tigers with 24 points, Wienhorst added 23 and Elliott had eight.
The Tigers made 9 of 24 free throws in the game.
Jacob Watts topped the Cougars with 19 and Cornett scored 18.
Crothersville won the turnover margin 22-13 but were outrebounded 38-25. Thomas grabbed 11 rebounds for the Tigers.
“We can’t fault the kids at all,” Kilgore said. “They played all the way to the final buzzer. I keep telling the kids that we can hang our hats on the fact that we’re younger than everyone. They had seven seniors and we have one, we will keep getting better and stronger.”