After the single most entertaining half of the year, Decatur High’s 10th-ranked Lady Bulldogs got slammed in the second, losing Saturday’s showdown against third-ranked ranked St. Pius X, 50-37.
Long after the game was over, Decatur coach Bill Roberts was still shaking his head and saying, “That third quarter killed us. We refused to run our offense and decided just to go one on one.”
That was part of the story. Another part was that Pius’ hermetically-sealed matchup zone rarely allowed Decatur to reach the same zip code as the basket. The Lady Dogs made only three two-point field goals all night and only two inside the paint.
Decatur’s leading scorer Jordan Dillard, averaging 18.3 points per game, was held to one field goal and a career-low four points total, shooting 1 for 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from three-point land.
Decatur’s boys didn’t fare any better. After the Bulldogs opened a 10-2 lead, Pius came roaring back for 62-48 win. It was the second loss on consecutive nights to important regional opponents. The boys are now 11-6 overall and 2-4 in the region.
In the girls battle for first place in Region 6-AAA, St. Pius’ strategy against Dillard was time-worn and effective: they played her straight-up man-to-man when she had the ball in the open court, then doubled- or even tripled-teamed her when she posted up. It wasn’t quite a box-and-chaser, though at times it looked that way.
“I’ve seen that a lot,” Dillard said, “but this was the most successful any team’s been against me. Even still, especially in the second half, I felt I had a lot of good shots. It was one of those nights when they wouldn’t go down.”
In the first half Decatur rained threes that most definitely went down. Freshman Jayla Morrow hit two, Kayla Thomas and Kori Anderson hit one each and Kris Munson, at 6-foot-3 the tallest player on the floor, hit three in a row.
Early on Decatur had leads of 11-6 and 14-8, but for Pius that onslaught of threes had the cumulative effect of an irritating gnat.
Featuring one of the best guard combinations in the state with junior Jasmine Carter and sophomore Asia Durr, St. Pius went on a 17-4 spree late in the first and most of the second quarter and opened up a 25-18 lead. Carter scored 11 of her 16 points during that run including two conventional three-pointers and an old school “and-one” three.
Munson hit back to back threes inside the last 1:30 and Decatur pulled within 28-27 at halftime, yet there was concern. Decatur had one of its best halves all year, and had already hit the most three pointers (seven) in any game all year by intermission, yet still trailed by one.
Pius came out in the second half with a diamond full-court press, designed to trap deep and speed up tempo in what had mostly been a half-court game on both sides.
Decatur committed only 11 turnovers Saturday, but seven came in the third quarter, the only quarter when Pius pressed.
Both Roberts and Dillard stated the press didn’t bother the Bulldogs all that much.
“We broke their press,” Dillard said. “The problem was, once we broke it we rushed our shots, sometimes going one on three or one on four. We made bad decisions.”
Decatur still trailed only 33-31 with 5:10 left in the third quarter, but then Pius erupted again, going on a 15-2 blitz over the next 6:35. Durr spurred the attack here, scoring six points with one assist while also hounding Dillard on top of the zone.
Durr finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists, all game highs. Her most electric moment came early in the game when she made a double no-look pass--that is, she looked two different directions before passing in a third direction. The shot was missed but the large Decatur High Arena crowd buzzed for several minutes.
Despite the early barrage of three pointers, and despite shooting a very good 35 percent beyond the arc (8 of 23) for the game, Decatur still shot only 21 percent from the floor overall. The Lady Bulldogs only hit 7 of 17 from the foul line (41 percent) while Pius hit 14 of 19 from the line, including 10 in a row during one stretch.
Decatur was led by Munson and Morrow who had 10 points each. Thomas led the Bulldogs with seven rebounds.
Pius takes sole possession of first place in Region 6-AAA at 6-0, with a 13-3 record overall, while Decatur drops to 12-5 and 5-1.
The boys also had an early run but managed only 14 points in the middle two quarters. They never got back in in the game despite scoring 24 fourth-quarter points.
“We have to execute our offense better,” said Decatur coach Charlie Copp. “That’s mainly why we have [occasionally long stretches without] scoring. It’s a matter of using both sides of floor, of reversing the ball and using our second and third options if our first option doesn’t work. That’s been very hard for our guys to learn.”
Kendall Ford had a game-high 18 points, though most of those came in the fourth quarter when this one was already decided. Murad Dillard added nine points.