SPORTS HEADLINES

Lady Eagles off to rocky start

By Clay Corbett | Published Wednesday, January 9, 2013

With foul trouble and no answer for Gainesville’s Ariannah Kemp, the Decatur Lady Eagles started their district schedule with a loss Friday.

Gainesville pulled away for a 57-44 win.

ROUGH START – Decatur’s Haley Dennard dribbles past Gainesville’s Chandler Kemp during Friday’s district opener in Gainesville. The Lady Eagles lost to the Lady Leopards 57-44. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Katie Isham fouled out in the fourth quarter with Decatur still within six points. Gainesville took advantage of Isham’s absence, outscoring the Lady Eagles 15-6 in the final five minutes of the game.

“That’s probably my fault,” Decatur coach Billy Garner said about Isham’s foul situation. “My assistants said they told me, and I guess I was just too into the game and didn’t realize it.”

OPEN LOOK – Decatur’s Katie Isham looks for an open teammate against Gainesville Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

With Isham in foul trouble, the Lady Leopards were able to draw her fifth foul early in the fourth quarter. Without Isham, Gainesville exploited Decatur in the paint, building their lead to 52-39 with three minutes left.

Garner knew the Lady Eagles made too many mistakes to pull off the victory.

“We didn’t handle the ball well and missed some easy shots,” Garner said. “We didn’t rebound offensively very well, and we talked about doing that to have a chance.

“It doesn’t get any easier. We’ve just got to move on to the next game.”

Decatur got off to a good start, taking an early lead. Two Shelby Drews free throws gave the Lady Eagles a 7-4 lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter.

Gainesville responded with a 9-2 run, grabbing their first lead of the game.

The Lady Leopards held that advantage until Stormi Leonard was fouled on an attempted shot near half court at the end of the first quarter. She made two of three free throws to give Decatur a 20-19 lead.

Three minutes into the second quarter, Decatur lost their last lead of the night when Kemp nailed an 18-foot jumpshot to put the Lady Leopards ahead 20-19. Kemp finished with 20, and Gainesville took a 28-23 halftime lead.

“I thought we did a great job the first half and executed the way we wanted to, except for a couple of times,” Garner said. “The second half we got into a little bit of foul trouble and No. 35 [Kemp] is just a tough guard.”

Gainesville added to their lead in the third quarter, taking a 40-32 advantage to the fourth.

Murphy Graham led Decatur with 14, and Isham had 12. Shelby Drews added 10.

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