By Richard Greene
With the Decatur Eagles trailing the rival Bridgeport Bulls by a point, Austin Lamirand took the inbounds pass with five seconds left in the third quarter.
The senior guard sprinted three quarters of the court, and found an opening to get to the rim to convert a layup as time ran out in the frame.
“I don’t know what happened,” Lamirand said. “There was an open lane the basket.
“That started our momentum in the fourth, and we took off.”
The basket ignited a 24-5 closing run for the Eagles in a 60-42 victory over the Bulls at Bridgeport High School.
Including the go-ahead layup, Lamirand scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the final 8:05.
“He’s an incredible player,” said Decatur coach Roger Brown. “We had to be patient. We had a slow stretch in the second quarter. But he came through.”
The victory kept Decatur (20-8, 6-1) in tie for first place in District 7-3A with Mineral Wells.
Bridgeport (12-17) fell to 2-5 in the league.
The Bulls battled back from an 11-0 deficit to start game to take a four-point lead midway through the third quarter, 29-25.
Bridgeport had a 37-36 lead before turning the ball over at the end of the third quarter to give Lamirand the chance to put Decatur up going into the fourth quarter.
It started a string of four straight turnovers as Decatur began breaking the game open. The Eagles went on an 11-0 run to start the final frame. The Bulls committed six of their 21 turnovers in the quarter.
“Every game the last two years with them have been close until the fourth quarter,” said Bridgeport coach Brian Miller. “They’ve got our number somehow in the fourth quarter.
“We give up the layup on a bad play at the end of the third. Then they go on a 6-0 run, and we unravel. Mentally, we’ve got to figure it out and do a better job understanding that we’ve got to finish.”
Decatur scored the game’s first 11 points. The Eagles started 4-for-4 from outside the three-point arc, building a 16-2 lead four minutes into the game.
The Eagles took a 20-8 lead into the second quarter.
After Decatur took a 24-10 lead on Taylor Clayton’s jumper, it went the final 5:20 of the first half without a point. The Eagles were 0-for-5 from the field with four turnovers during the drought.
“We started doing what Coach Miller wants us do defensively,” said Bridgeport guard Cameron King.
Bridgeport put together a 10-0 run to pull within four, 24-20, at halftime. King, who led the Bulls with 14 points, went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line during the run.
“We started attacking the rim and getting the line,” King said.
Bridgeport took its first lead with 5:37 left in the third on Blake Mahon’s basket.
“We were down 16-2,” Miller said. “I was proud of the way we battled back to take lead.”
The teams traded the lead twice before Lamirand’s drive put the Eagles up for good.
Lamirand was joined in double figures by Clayton with 14 points. Caleb Hogan added eight points.
The Eagles played all 10 of their players with Brown bringing in five players at a time.
“We were trying to wear them down running 10 guys at them,” Brown said. “I do think it affected them.”
Blake Thompson added 10 points for the Bulls.