SPORTS HEADLINES

Sissies win thriller over Decatur

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, February 1, 2019.
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After Ashley Ingram sank a pair of free throws with under 20 seconds left Friday night, Decatur coach Lindsay Griffin spent her final timeout.

The Lady Eagles trailed 38-35 and needed a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. But a frenzy for the ball on Decatur’s final possession prevented the Lady Eagles from getting off their set play.

Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt.

With under five seconds left, Katie Hale came up with the ball in the corner and hoisted a shot, but it clanked off the backboard to send the Sissies home with a 38-35 victory.

“We didn’t get a good shot off at the end,” Griffin said. “We had a play drawn up and Bridgeport did a good job defending. You have to hand it to them. We couldn’t get the ball where we wanted to get it and didn’t make the shot.”

Decatur entered the fourth quarter leading 31-28. Junior guard Emily Vidal gave Bridgeport the lead back with her fourth 3-pointer of the game, slipping free at the top of the key. Vidal led all scorers with 14 points and shot 51.7 percent from beyond the arc.

“It was pretty intense,” Vidal said. “It’s always like this when it’s Decatur.”

Vidal was the primary source of offense for the Sissies, who started the game 1-of-6 from the field. Bridgeport shot 28 percent on the night.

Decatur jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead before Vidal buried back-to-back treys.

“The kid knows we’re confident in her,” said Bridgeport coach Dallas Taylor. “Good shooters don’t stop shooting. We can all agree she’s a great shooter, and we trust her to knock down big shots.”

Vidal gave Bridgeport its first lead of the game late in the second quarter, stripping Hale and finishing at the other end in transition. In the third quarter, she forced the Lady Eagles to burn a timeout when she delivered a crafty behind-the-back pass to Ingram on a fastbreak to put the Sissies up 28-24.

But Decatur mounted another run, making a 7-0 push to end the quarter and re-gain the lead entering the final frame.

Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt.

“It was back and forth the entire game, we just didn’t end up on top,” Griffin said. “Did we play a perfect game? Absolutely not. You’re never going to. I really just feel like this was two really good teams and someone had to be the winner, and someone had to be the loser.”

Mackenzie Whitaker led the Lady Eagles with 12 points. Hale added 10.

Decatur dealt with foul trouble for most of the game, as Brison Hesteande and Aly Starke both fouled out. With only seven players on their roster, the Lady Eagles were down to their final five late in the fourth quarter.

“We went through a lot of trials in this game — foul trouble, we had girls go down with different injuries throughout the game and I’m begging for them to go back in there,” Griffin said. “I’m proud of our kids. I don’t think we have one thing to hang our head about. We battled through and played as a team.”

Decatur fell to 25-7 overall and 4-3 in District 8-4A. The Lady Eagles must win their regular season finale against Argyle Tuesday to force a tie for second place. If they lose, Bridgeport will finish second.

The Sissies finished the regular season 23-10 overall and 5-3 in 8-4A. Decatur and Bridgeport split the season series with each other, as both games were decided by six points or less.

“It’s a huge momentum win,” Taylor said. “Tonight was a big night for our confidence. When Decatur and Bridgeport meet, it’s going to be an intense night. You get your money’s worth.”

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