A 12-0 run at the end of the first half sparked the Decatur Eagles to a lead that they would never relinquish Tuesday night in their 54-39 win over rival Bridgeport.
Decatur’s (18-9, 4-1) victory secures a playoff spot in District 9-3A, while the Bulls (14-14, 1-4) saw their playoff hopes dim.
Trailing 20-13 with under three minutes left in the first half, the Eagles were struggling to get any offensive consistency.
“We couldn’t guard 22 [Resse Read] big or small, but we felt like we could create some more turnovers if we went small,” Decatur coach Drew Coffman said. “That’s what we did the last couple minutes of the half and got some easy buckets off of it.”
The final two minutes before halftime ended up being the difference in the game. Cain Lowe started the run with a 3-pointer and ended it with a lay-up with three seconds left to give the Eagles a 25-20 lead heading to the locker room.
Bridgeport coach Brian Miller said his team just couldn’t close out the half.
“We had a stretch of dumb plays and undisciplined basketball that allowed them make that run,” Miller said.
The Bulls tried to climb back to it in the third quarter, but Read was the only player that could score. He made all of Bridgeport’s seven points in the quarter, while Decatur built their lead to 37-27 heading to the final frame.
“No one but Reese could score in the third,” Miller said. “We missed eight lay-ups in the second half along with poor decisions on the offensive end.”
Read finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds and has been giving every team in the district problems.
“There is only so much physical limitation a kid can have, and he was exhausted at the end of the game,” Coffman said. “I love watching him play. He gives everybody fits with the intensity he plays with.”
Bridgeport would never get any closer than 10 points the rest of the way as Decatur’s lead grew to as much as 19.
With three games left, the Eagles want to build on what they’ve accomplished.
“Our goal wasn’t just to get in; it was to win the district,” Coffman said. “We’re fighting for position now.”
Decatur was led by Parker Slate with 12. Taylor Clayton and Lowe each had nine. Cameron Mize had eight, and Paul Walker added six.
Besides Read, Bridgeport was led by Blake Arrington with seven, and Alex Samples tossed in six.
Decatur will travel to Sanger Tuesday while the Bulls will be at Gainesville.