Total team effort paces Lady Eagles
By Paul Stackhouse
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Decatur Heritage girls basketball coach John Cochran is reaping the benefits of time.
He has only two seniors on his team, but they're showing that hard work and dedication breeds positive change.
With Candace Lee and Brittany Denson leading the way, Decatur Heritage scored a 46-35 win over Madison Academy.
"They have done their job leading the others, and because of that, I can say this win was nothing less than a team effort," Cochran said. "All of our girls have worked so hard that it would really be difficult for me to single out any one player in the win. So many of them, all 10 of them, came in during key moments and got the job done."
Lee led Decatur Heritage (11-12) with 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four steals. Lou Ellen Thompson also scored double figures with 12 points. Denson had six points, four rebounds and a team-high three assists.
The Lady Eagles led 12-7 at the end of the first quarter and 28-20 after the first half. With one second remaining in the half, Thompson hit three free throws to send Decatur Heritage into intermission with the eight-point advantage.
Madison Academy outscored Decatur Heritage 11-7 in the third period, cutting the Lady Eagles' lead to 35-31.
The Decatur Heritage defense took control of the fourth quarter, allowing the Lady Mustangs only four points.
With fewer than three minutes left to play, Lee made four free throws in less than 13 seconds to give the home standing Lady Eagles a commanding 45-33 lead, ending all hopes
for a Madison Academy comeback.
"Our younger girls are responding and contributing and with that I am seeing a lot of confidence on the floor," Cochran said. "It seems to make the wins magnified, getting us ready for post-season."
Haley Stewart led Madison Academy in scoring with 13 points.
Madison Academy boys 65, Decatur Heritage 47: Defending Class 3A state champion Madison Academy showed why they are ranked third in the latest state poll.
But for Decatur Heritage coach Tommy Kyle, the 65-47 loss to the Mustangs was in many ways a victory for his 1A Eagles.
"We knew a long time ago how good they would be," Kyle said. "But we learn an awful lot by playing great teams like Madison Academy. Andy (Blaxton) has done a super job coaching them.
"Night in and night out, I'd rather be playing teams like Athens, Muscle Shoals and Madison Academy than to go out and beat a team by, say, something like 30 points. I'm proud of the way we played. We worked hard and never slowed down, but we just don't have the same weapons they do."
The Mustangs made 17 of 23 shots from the floor and connected on 16 of 19 free throws.
Decatur Heritage connected on 13 of 26 field goals while hitting 15 of 15 from the free throw line.
"They shot over 70 percent," Kyle said. "I'd say that's pretty good. But, we shot 50 percent, and that's pretty good, also.
"Something else I was extremely pleased with was making 100 percent of our free throws. We definitely need to keep doing that. It will pay off for us some time, especially if we're playing in a real close game."
Bawa Muniru led Madison Academy (21-6) with 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.Kerron Johnson had 13 points and eight assists. Austin Doggette made 12 points, and Matt Currie had 11.
De'el Watkins led Decatur Heritage (17-11) in scoring with 12 points. Nik Butz had eight points, four rebounds and three steals.
"Playing teams like this can make you better," Kyle said. "I really feel they made us a better team."
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