Decatur uses big second half to cruise past Bridgeport

By Reece Waddell | Published Tuesday, January 16, 2018.
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The Decatur Eagles and Bridgeport Bulls both got off to somewhat lethargic starts Tuesday night. On one hand, the Bulls managed just four points in the first quarter, while on the other, the Eagles failed to pull away in the first half.

But a different Decatur team emerged from the locker room after the intermission.

Behind a 22-5 run in the third quarter, the Eagles quickly started pouring it on rival Bridgeport, cruising to a 60-36 victory.

“I thought the difference of the game was just the way we approached the game in the second half,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “I thought we were really more aggressive driving the ball to the basket and going to make plays.

“It’s hard to figure out the high school mind. I wish I could. If I would I’d sell a book and makes lots of money. I definitely think the difference in the game was we were just more aggressive, and for whatever reason, it wasn’t that way in the first half.”

The Eagles had five different players finish in double-figures – a balanced scoring attack led by Dane Fitzgerald and Ethan Southard, who each had 12 points. Grayson Harris poured in 11 points while Wilson Hicks and Gage Reiger tossed in 10.

Fitzgerald led the way for most of the second half, jumping passing lanes and commanding the fast break. Along with hitting numerous contested layups, Fitzgerald also frequently drew the assignment of guarding arguably Bridgeport’s best player, Andrew Horton.

Horton, the last remaining player from the Bulls’ 2015 state title team, is Bridgeport’s leading scorer this season averaging 20.4 points per game. Fitzgerald and the Eagles held Horton to five points below his average, as he finished with 15 points.

“It was just part of our gameplan, we didn’t want him to get any catch-and-shoots,” Fitzgerald said. “And if he was open, we wanted it to be contested.”

Decatur outscored the Bulls 39-22 in the second half, and with Horton unable to get into a groove, the Bridgeport offense completely sputtered.

With the win, the Eagles get back to the .500 mark at 12-12, and improve to 1-1 in District 9-4A play. The loss drops the Bulls to 9-15 on the season and 0-2 in district play. Bridgeport and Decatur meet again on Feb. 2.

“I always love beating Bridgeport,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re a good team, but anytime I can beat Bridgeport I’m happy.”

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